Sunday, January 24, 2010

God is GOOD!!

Wow. I don't even know where to start. I want to go back and blog about the crazy week that lead up to her homecoming but I will get now to what everyone wants to know- how has it been since she has been home. Things have been great. It is still completely surreal and I still can't believe it when I see her walking around our house! We left the airport and came home for a few minutes for Andy to pick up something. She got to see her room for the first time. She was so excited and laughed about Chester the girls big horse in Taylor's room and quickly got on it to ride it. She made her way through some of the different rooms and met Sammy our cat. It is funny that she really doesn't know how to pet him. Animals in Haiti are looked at very different than they are here and they probably think it is crazy that we have animals living in our house and that we pet them and pay attention to them.

We then headed to Chick-fil-a for her first play place experience. She is 10 years old and has never been on a slide (unless you count sliding down the inclines on the roof at Camatin). Then we sat down for chicken and fries and a coke. She loved it all but you could tell she was tired because she didn't want to go back and play. We then took her first trip to Target to get her some shoes to wear to church. She was amazed by the huge store & we just enjoyed watching her face as she looked through clothes (well if you count doing the ugly cry in the middle of Target enjoying). She asked for a couple of things and we told her we would wait until later and she immediately put them back. We let her pick out a pair of shoes and then to her to the hair aisle to pick out hair accessories and combs, and then let her pick out some lotion. As we were paying I reached in my pocket to get my credit card and instead pulled out a Target card. On one of the packages she received at the airport had a gift card on it and it was falling off so I stuck it in my pocket and had forgotten about it. I am not even sure who it was from but if you are reading this- thank you!! That was a big happy last night!!

We headed back home and let her open a few of her Christmas presents, she explored the house some more. Then she took her first warm bubble bath (she loved it- she put bubbles all over her face and made a big mess in the bathroom splashing). Before their bath the girls were all upstairs laughing and when I asked why Taylor said she was laughing because they took off their panties to get ready for their bath. She came down the steps in her towel still giggling. In the orphanage they take a bath in their panties and when they finish they hand-wash their panties and hang them up to dry. Taylor then spent an hour braiding her hair & then they went to sleep. What a precious moment it was to walk in the girls rooms and kiss 4 girls goodnight and go to bed with such a peace knowing all of our family was under one roof safe and cuddled in their beds.

Andy said this morning when he came down from his shower that Odette and Taylor were up and Odette was in Abby & Molly's room hitting their bed with a scarf and trying to wake them up so he had to stop her. She spent the morning just going from one thing to another in our house. I think there is too much to do and she can't decide what to do first. So far her favorite thing is her balloons she got at the airport.

Watching her she is so much like a toddler exploring their environment. Little things that we didn't think about amaze us: the girls had to teach her at Chick-fil-a how to open her straw, I had to teach her at church how to tear the paper towels off the paper towel dispenser, that hot water comes out of the faucet, and the list I'm sure will continue to grow.

She took the hair down that Taylor fixed and she fixed her own hair this morning in pigtails. They have never really had the freedom to fix their hair themselves so this will be a learning process for us all.

Andy came and picked us up for church and we got to ride together as a family. She seemed to enjoy church and mostly enjoyed getting to talk to the other adoptive girls. I love watching them talk to each other and loving on each other. So far today Odette has asked to call Valancia and go to her house and she has gotten a call from Islande and Benita too. Before bed she told me tomorrow she wants to go to Benita's house. God knew that these girls were going to need each other so much that he brought them here at the same time so the could be together.

She asked for pork for lunch (that is the only word that I have not understood yet but luckily Brian was close so he was able to help out). We went to Mandarin House because she wanted rice too and we thought they had some pork dishes. They really didn't but she liked most things that she tried and was completely fascinated by the fish tanks. She kept leaving the table just to go look.

She spent the afternoon playing and changing clothes. I think she had on at least two outfits and redid her hair again. She starting washing the dishes in our sink so Taylor showed how how to load them in the dishwasher.

For dinner she wanted fish so we got Long John Silvers (I promise that I can cook but I doubt she knows that other than the cinnamon rolls that I made for breakfast). She had fun playing at Valancia's but then she came and said in English "Let's go home." Which is now my favorite words that she says. It took us a little while to convince her to go to bed but she finally did. She was talking about school tomorrow and I had to tell her that Abby, Molly & Taylor are going to school but she was going to stay with me. She seemed fine with that and that is when she told me that we could go to Benita's tomorrow.

Well this ended up longer than I thought but I am sure there are other details I left out but I will update as I remember them. Thanks again for everyone's support and prayers through this entire journey to bring our little girl home where she belongs!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

ODETTE, ALLYSON & THE OTHERS ARE ON THEIR WAY

Ally just called. They are on the plane preparing for take off. Here is a link to follow their flight.

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/N21DE

ODETTE IN IMMIGRATION!!!!

SHE IS ON AMERICAN SOIL

Allyson just called to say that they see everybody and that they are on the ground. SHE'S REALLY IN THE U.S. ALONG WITH THE OTHERS!!!!! The parents have already gotten in trouble for taking pictures. They now have an idea of what its like for the girls to be waiting on us at the orphanage.

Allyson and the others on the way...

I just talked to Allyson. The shuttle is taking them to the airport where the plane is to be landing. Will post when Allyson has her hands on Odette.

Friday, January 22, 2010

ALLYSON - TO THE AIRPORT!!!!

Allyson is headed to the airport right now to catch a flight to Miami with the other parents.

THEY HAVE THE PAPERS!!!

Kevin has the papers and is on his way back to the airport.

AT THE AIRPORT RIGHT NOW

Here is video that Brian Lloyd of Harvest Field Ministries (harvestfieldhaiti.org) took of the kids sleeping in the shade of the plane.



video

Almost Home

The last 24 hours have been crazy. It has been a complete emotional roller coaster but God has been there in every detail and our girls & Wousamy are COMING HOME!!! Kevin flew in to Jacmel at 9:40 this morning and picked up the girls and Brian and they took right back off and headed to Port-au-Prince airport. Brian and the pilots stayed with the kids at the airport while Kevin went to the Embassy to process our paperwork. Be praying that that all goes as smoothly as planned. Then they will take off and land in the Virgin Islands to refuel and spend the night. One of each of the adoptive couples has to meet them in Fort Lauderdale in the morning to process more paperwork. So at 5:51 one tonight I (Allyson) will be headed from McGhee Tyson to Fort Lauderdale along with the other families. We will spend the night there and will head to the airport in the morning to see our kids. I still can't wrap my head around that but maybe it will hit when I am seated on the plane & can have a few hours to process it all. We still aren't quite sure what the return flight will look like but we hope to know better times by tonight or tomorrow morning. Andy will post on here when we find out. Please continue to pray for safe travel for us and the kids and adults flying from Haiti. We received this picture a few minutes ago which makes it more real (it is all 5 girls, Wousamy and the 2 pilots). All this year thinking about how it would be to go pick her up and bring her home it sure did not look like this but God is in control and I know his plans for us usually are far better than what we can imagine ourselves.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Updates

Sorry for the lack of updates in the last day or so, life is just crazy right now. As I type this I am amazed that it has just been a week since the earthquake and that I have only been home from Haiti 9 days at this point. It feels like forever.

On Monday I took a trip with 6 other people at our church to a meeting at Coopers office in Nashville to discuss the hopeful Humanitarian Parole and what the next weeks might look like. I will never be able to thank the staff and Cooper & Corkers offices for all of their help in this process. The meeting went well and we found out about an hour later that the Humanitarian Parole was passed and that our girls will be coming home. The first group of girls coming home will be the 5 girls in the process of adoption: Odette, Benita, Dieula, Islande & Valancia & also Wousamy that is being adopted by a couple at our church. Things are looking hopeful that we will later be able to bring the rest of the 12 girls home too.

We got news last night that this may happen much faster than we thought. Once plane arrangements have been made, Andy & Kevin will be flying to bring our 5 girls and Wousamy home. I can't believe it and it still does not seem completely real. We don't have details about exact dates now but I will let you know as soon as I find them out. But there is a good chance that we will have our kids home by early next week. Thanks for all your prayers and support during this time. It amazes me how many people now know about our girls and know their names. We have always said we would love it if we could go pick up the girls together so no one would be alone here & I am amazed by God and although I don't know the full picture of His plan I am in awe as each part is revealed.

I did get word for Rachel today that she talked to Brian and he walked to Odette's house yesterday to check on her. He had not seen her yet and had only heard that she was ok. He said she is good, she was playing and seemed pretty happy. She did have blisters on her feet from walking from Port-au-Prince but they are starting to heal & he cleaned them up and treated them for her. (I can't remember if we told you that we found out that her parents and her started walking from City of God in Port au Prince on Tuesday night and arrived at Coq Chante Wednesday afternoon- the trip is a 3 hour truck ride so I can't imagine walking that far- I think we have a pretty tough little girl!). Brian said she was really happy to see him but more excited that Hippolite was with him so nothing has changed- Hippolite has always been her favorite.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Worship at Coq Chante this Morning

Latest email update from our church

We received more good news today on several fronts.

Here's the latest:

- WOUSAMI IS SAFE!!! - Brian finally made it to Belloc today and verified that Wousami and his family are all fine, including Samuel who we finally got to talk to today. All the homes in Belloc are destroyed, but the people we know the best are all fine. (You can now exhale finally Bates family). Hallelujah!!

- BRIAN MADE IT TO COQ CHANTE AND SAW "OUR GIRLS" WITH HIS OWN EYES: They are doing well, although their food supply will only last for one more week. Water is scarce, but they have been drinking juice from chadeks (grapefruits) growing around the orphanage.

- ROAD TO JACMEL REPORTEDLY CLEAR: This is great news for our mission team scheduled to leave on Tuesday -- It makes ground transportation and safety much less of a concern. Brian and a few Haitian friends were taking the truck to Jacmel this afternoon to see for themselves. As of now, I haven't gotten any confirmation about what they saw.

It's late. More to come tomorrow. Good night.


Blessings,

Mark Zimmerman
White Stone Church

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hard to see pictures

Coq Chante Church, School & Orphanage Before:




Coq Chante Church, School & Orphanage After:



Words can't describe how I feel seeing this. It is too hard to believe that I stood and cried on that top balcony on Monday after I said good-bye to Odette & a little over 24 hours later it is gone. If you have not been there, on the top floor it took out the front balcony and the first room on the left & right, the left was where they kept their new sewing machines and the room on the right is where Pastor & Madame Gaspard slept. It also took out the wall into some of the girls rooms.

Latest email update from our church

Things continue to change and evolve. Here's the latest:

- ODETTE BACK AT COQ CHANTE: We just got word that Odette is back with the other girls. She was at "City of God" when the quake hit -- a church that completely collapsed. It is a miracle that she survived. Only the hand of God could have protected her. We don't know how she was able to make it back to the mountains -- but she did! Praise God!!

- SAMUEL TRYING TO CONTACT US: This is great news! Samuel is Wousami's older brother. We have had no contact from him or anyone from Belloc. We haven't been able to talk to him yet, but at least we know he is alive! Brian will stop by Belloc today on his way to Coq Chante. Pray for a good report on Wousami's family today!

- NO WATER AT THE ORPHANAGE: We have just learned that all the cisterns collapsed at Coq Chante and they lost all of their water supply. They haven't had water in several days. Their spirits are good, but the situation is very serious. Brian is trying to make his way up the mountain today -- he will try to find water on the way -- no easy task. Pray! PS (The girls could be heard singing in the background when Brian talked to them on the phone -- some things haven't changed!)

- BRINGING THE GIRLS HOME: We continue to work with political leaders to facilitate getting all the girls here as soon as possible. It looks like the best opportunity is to bring them through a process called "Humanitarian Parole". It is by no means a done deal. Much work to do. Need favor with some people in high position. Pray that God would allow this to happen quickly!

JACMEL AIRPORT OPENED: This is a huge answer to prayer. We are still not sure our team can land there on Tuesday -- but at least it is progress.

WE NEED A HELICOPTER: We are doing everything we know to do to find a helicopter that can bring us from an airstrip in the Dominican, Jacmel, or wherever we end up landing. The US government is likely our best chance. We are contacting everyone we know who may be able to call in a favor for us. If you know of anyone who can help ... make the call!

ROAD FROM JACMEL TO COQCHANTE REPAIRED: This means there may be a chance to get our White Truck to Jacmel to pick up our Team, but more importantly, to bring in supplies.

INFORMATION MEETING TOMORROW AFTER WORSHIP: Things are changing so quickly, I am planning a meeting after worship tomorrow to talk specifically about the details of bringing the girls to Knoxville. Anyone interested is welcome to stay.

THANK YOU FOR OVERWHELMING RESPONSE TO HOUSING GIRLS: At this point we have no idea who will be staying where, but we needed to be able to show the government that there is broad scale support for caring for these girls in Knoxville. I'll share more information about this at tomorrow's meeting.

- MONA, RICAYINA, AND RYAN COMING TO KNOXVILLE TOMORROW: Mona is Pastor Nicolas' wife, Ricayina and Ryan are Ricot's children (anyone who has met these two has immediately fallen in love with them). Ricot is afraid for their safety, so he is sending them to Knoxville to join thr mother tomorrow.

That's all for now. More to come shortly


Blessings,

Mark Zimmerman
White Stone Church

SHE IS BACK AT COQ CHANTE

We received this email this morning:

On Jan 16, 2010, at 8:34 AM, Brian Lloyd wrote:

U know she is back at coq chante now right?
She was at city of god when quake hit. It is totally destroyed. Absolute miracle they are ok. God protected her.
---------------------------------

What we are hearing about the city is not good and we are very thankful she is not there.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

WAYS TO HELP

If you would like to help the girls and rebuild the Coq Chante orphange go to www.whitestonechurch.org to make a donation.

Newest email update from church

God is moving in a mighty way today! Here's latest . . .

- ODETTE IS SAFE: Praise God! She is with her birth mother in Port au Prince. Ricot can't get to her right away, but she is safe!!!

- HIPPOLITE IS SAFE! Hippolite, a former orphan who grew up in Pastor Nicolas' house, is the ultimate servant. He's been involved in every trip I've ever taken to Haiti.

- ESTEMINE IS SAFE! Estemine is the female version of Hippolite -- an orphan that Pastor Nicolas took in -- now the ultimate picture of beauty and grace

- EVELYN IS SAFE! Many of you know Evelyn from her time in the States.

- AGATHE'S FAMILY IS SAFE! Agathe is overseeing the girls at the orphanage, but her family was in Port au Prince -- they are all good, including her own little adoptive daughter, Garthland.

- LOZAMA IS SAFE! Lozama cooks for us on every trip.

- JABAY IS SAFE! Jabay is an incredible young man with a million dollar smile and a heart to match.

- MARY FLO IS SAFE! Mary Flo is another beautiful soul that helps serve us often.

- SANTELAH IS SAFE! Santelah is Mary Flo's mother, and she helps in the kitchen for all our trips.

- ALFRED IS SAFE! Alfred is Evelyn's husband, and he is also our driver. He is actually at Coq Chante with the girls and THE WHITE TRUCK! That's right . . . our truck is safe too!

- THE GIRLS HAVE ACCESS TO THEIR FOOD SUPPLY: The month's supply of food that we just left for the orphanage was not destroyed. The girl's are eating well and are sleeping in the back of the big truck.

- MEDIA PUBLICITY IS SPREADING: Another local newscast will report tonight (WVLT) and tomorrow morning "Good Morning America" will interview Lorie Johnson live!!!! Atanie's life is already having a huge impact in getting the story of all the girls out all across America. Pray that God would use it all for His Glory!

- SAMARITAN'S PURSE TO DO HELICOPTER DROP OF FOOD AND SUPPLIES AT COQ CHANTE AND CAMATIN: Through the efforts of two very distracted 5th grade teachers at Copper Ridge Elementary, and a very sweet lady from the Samaritan's Purse, God is making a way to do a helicopter drop of food and supplies to our friends at Coq Chante and Camitin. God continues to amaze me at how intentional HE is!!!!

WHITE STONE EMERENCY RELIEF TRIP IN THE WORKS: God is continuing to work out the details to get a team a 5-6 men from White Stone on the ground in Haiti in the coming days. Pray that God continue to knock down every barrier that stands between us and the work Hehas called us to do.

ONE VERY SAD NOTE -- PASTOR MENES DAUGHTER, BEREMY, IS DEAD: Please pray for Pastor Menes -- this was his "baby girl" and he adored her. Beremy died when her school collapsed.

More details as I get them. Keep praying. God continues to answer prayer!

Blessings,

Mark Zimmerman
White Stone Church

THANK GOD!!!

We just received word that Odette is ok and with her mother. Will post more later!!!

Latest email update from our church

Blessings White Stone family. Yesterday was a very long day, with many tears for lives lost, but with much hope as we hear stories of God's deliverance.

Thanks to all who joined the incredible turnout to pray last night for our friends and family in Haiti.

Here are the latest things we know:

- PASTOR RONNIGUE IS DEAD: Pastor Ronnigue was the spritual leader of the 25 churches that Pastor Nicolas started in Haiti. After Pastor Nicolas' death last year, Pastor Ronnigue's role became even more vital. He was Brian Lloyd's primary partner in reaching out to all these churches in Haiti. He was the man who gave spiritual leadership to all the churches, and trained and equipped the pastors. This loss is devestating. He was an incredible man of God

- BELLOC DESTROYED: Belloc was the first church, school, and orphanage that we ever worked in. At the time it housed an orphanage for boys. When Pastor Nicolas got sick, they had to close the orphanage and send the boys away, however the school and church were still operating. No word on any human casualties, but both buildings at Belloc were totally flattened. No word on Wousamy and his family yet.

- CAMATIN SAFE: Praise God for this!!!! This is the place where our mission teams stay. It is an incredible facility. Big enough and close enough to house all the girls from Coq Chante. Pastor Moises is doing well, although he has many dead in his community. He is taking care of many people at Camatin. He will try to send a person on motorcycle to Coq Chante today to tell the girls to walk to Camatin.

- ODETTE: Still no word on Odette. Keep praying for her safety.

- BRIAN LLOYD ON HIS WAY TO DOMINCAN REPUBLIC: Brian is in the air as I type this. He will try to work his way across the border into Haiti tomorrow. Pray!

- OTHER BIG STUFF IN THE WORKS: Pray for several meetings today with political leaders here in TN that could make a way to bring "our girls" home. I'll pass on more details later -- just pray for God's favor on these meetings. Pray for big things, huge miracles!

That's all for now. I love you. Blessings

Mark Zimmerman
White Stone Church

Still No News

There is still no news about Odette. They tried numerous times during the night to get through to Eddy but could not. At this point I am sure most cell phones are dead because there is no way to recharge them without power. So we would appreciate your continued prayers. Please pray too for our girls at school today. Pray it is a good distraction and that they are able to concentrate and have a good day. Taylor has a spelling bee at 9:00 that she has been looking forward too but today she woke up saying she didn't want to do it. Pray that she can focus.

I have had many people ask me how they can help. If you would like to help "Our Girls" financially you can go to our church website www.whitestonechurch.org & click on Haiti Disaster Aid at the top. All of that money will go towards our girls & sustaining them through this time & through the future as we try to rebuild. You can also read more about our work in Haiti and personal stories of each of the girls on our website.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No News Yet

I don't have words for the past 24 hours. We went to bed last night worrying about our friends in the city in Haiti but thinking that surely the orphanage all the way in the mountains would be fine. A knock on the door at midnight changed everything. After many hours of trying they finally got in touch with one of the workers at the orphanage. In a moment all of our lives were changed. They found out that the majority of the orphanage collapsed during the earthquake & the youngest girl did not get out. Her name was Atanie & I just spent a whole last week loving on her and laughing with her. Then Brian told us that Odette was not there. At this time they thought that she had gone with Eddy & her parents to the city but no one knew where they were. After a sleepless night we got a call from Brian at 5:50 telling us that Eddy's wife had a 20 second conversation with Eddy and he said that "we are ok". I held on to the hope the rest of the morning that "we" meant Odette was with him. Then at 7:00 Brian showed up on our doorstep again to tell us that Odette rode a tap-tap with her parents earlier that afternoon and she was not with Eddy. They were supposed to stay with family in the city that night and then go today for testing. Eddy was headed out this morning to go find them. We have not had any phone service to Haiti since around 7 or 8 this morning so we still do not know any more. Our guys are going to spend the night calling over & over like they did last night until they get through. We are hoping for news by in the morning. Please continue to pray. I feel with everything in me that she is ok & I know that God is in control. I can't wait for a phone call with two words I have been longing to hear all day "HELLO, MOMMY".


Here is the email that was sent out this morning that explains all the details about our other Haitian friends. At this point we have no update on any of this information.

It has been a very long and deadly night for our friends and family in Haiti.

We have now spoken to the leaders at the Coq Chante Orphanage and this is what we know:

- A large portion (up to 1/2 or more) of the building structure at Coq Chante collapsed during the quake.

- ATANIE: the youngest of "our girls", did not make it out of the building. She was coming down the steps at the front of the orphanage when the front end of the building collapsed. They have now recovered her body.

- ODETTE: the adoptive daughter of Andy and Allyson Coleman, is presently unaccounted for. Odette was not at Coq Chante at the time of the quake. She was in Port au Prince with her birth parents for medical tests yesterday. Eddy knows where her family was supposed to be staying last night in Port aP, and is currently on his way to try to find her. We have been unable to make contact with her or her family to this point.

THE REST OF "OUR GIRLS" - The remaining 16 girls made it out with only some minor injuries. They are very frightened. The remaining structure is unsafe and they cannot go back inside at this point. The girls spent the night outside, in the courtyard of the orphanage. All the caregivers who presently live at the orphanage (Agathe, Edwin, Pastor and Madam Gaspard, Jean Luke and Magrela) are all safe and are caring for the girls.

- RICOT LOUIS JUSTE AND FAMILY: Ricot (Pastor Nicolas' son), Mona (Pastor Nicolas' widow), and their immediate family are all safe. Their house in Delmas sustained major damage but they all managed to make it out. They spent the night in the courtyard outside their home. Ricot's wife, Christina, is here in Knoxville with us.

- EDDY JEUNE AND FAMILY: Eddy, Nicole, and their children are all safe and their house came through the quake ok.

- PASTOR MENES: He is safe and his house still standing, but his youngest daughter, Beremy, is unaccounted for. She was at school in the city at the time of the quake, and Pastor Menes is getting reports that the school building collapsed. He hasn't been able to make contact with her.

We haven't been able to make contact with anyone else at this point, or confirm the condition of other facilities (ie, Camatin, Belloc). The epicenter of the quake was located in an area very close to the homes of many of our other friends (Hippolite, Estemine, Evelyne, Jabey, among others). We continue to try to make contact constantly.

At first light this morning Ricot will be trying to make the journey to Coq Chante to try to get to the girls. Reports are that Port au Prince is virtually destroyed, and the road up the mountain sustained much damage -- so travel may prove impossible.

WHITE STONE FAMILY: PLEASE PRAY! We will be monitoring the developments throughout the day - trying to formulate a plan on what our next-steps will be.

We covet your prayers. Pray for everyone involved. Pray for God's mercy. Pray for provision and safety for those unaccounted for. Pray for miracles. JUST PRAY.

We will pass on more information as we get it.

Blessings,

Mark Zimmerman
White Stone Church

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Please Pray!!

Please be praying for our friends and family in Haiti. As of now we have no information on "our girls" or any of our friends there. The center of the quake hit in an area where many of our Haitian friends live. Phone lines are down so we have not been able to get any information about how they are. Because the orphanage is on the mountain a couple of hours out of the city we are hopeful that they did not receive any damage.

One other prayer is for Odette's parents. They went to the city today for DNA testing & for a while I thought Odette may be with them but luckily she did not need to travel with them for the testing. I will update as soon as we hear from Haiti. It is hard to believe that I was on the ground in Haiti a little more than 24 hours ago. Please just continue to be praying!