Pack it Up, Pack it In

It’s about 20 hours until my plane leaves Nashville. I’m basically ready to go. I have to fold some clothes and stick them in my suitcase, but that’s nothing.

We meet at the airport tomorrow at 4am and our flight takes off at 6. I would love some prayers – for my health (which has been so so very much better), for the team to work together well, for these 10 teenagers to have a really cool experience, that the work we do while we’re there will be insanely helpful, and most of all – that the Haitians we’re working with understand why we’re there.

Of course, there will be 50,000 pictures when I get home. I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to update while I’m gone, probably nothing on the blog. But check me out on twitter @stephhagen for quick updates and lots of cell phone pictures.

Here we go!


Couple Things

Quick update on a couple of things.

1. No pain at all on Saturday or Sunday (and so far today!). Thank the Lord.

2. I have everything I need for my trip, and it’s mostly all sitting out together waiting to be put in a suitcase. This far in advance? Yes.

3. I’m getting so so excited! TWO DAYS!

Emergency Room

So this one time, I had some pretty rough pain in my abdomen for 4 days and it fit the description of appendicitis. And I went to the doctor and he was like, “yeah, you have appendicitis. You should go to the ER and get that taken care of.”

So I prepared myself for the first surgery I’d ever had, and waited to be taken in. And then 6 hours later (not exaggerating) the ER doctor told me I did NOT have appendicitis and I could go home. After an IV and a CT scan and lots of sitting around watching NBC sitcoms and after all my HSA money was spent, I’d imagine. I had never had a CT before. That dye stuff is weird, huh? I thought I was going to choke to death. I didn’t! Hooray!

So I’ve still got this weird pain thing in my belly sometimes. Right about where the appendix is, it seems. But I don’t have appendictis. And I don’t have any cysts. And I didn’t have to have surgery less than a week before I spend some time in a 4th world country. Yay! He offered pain medication if I want it (which I most likely won’t take – I hate the way pain pills make me feel) and suggested I call my doctor again early next week if the pain doesn’t go away. I’m also going to try out a clear liquid diet for 24 hours and see if that helps any. Thankfully black coffee counts as a clear liquid, because I’m worn out. Way way worn out.

Thanks for the prayers and all the sweet words of encouragement, friends! I’m healthyish and ready to go play in Haiti.

Saying Yes

My Haiti team has our last meeting tonight before we meet at the Nashvile airport at 3am next Wednesday. I can’t help but think about the few days before my trip last year. I had just sprained both ankles, and broken one of them as well. My foot was swollen to twice its size, and I couldn’t put the slightest amount of pressure on it. I was so clumsy learning to use crutches. I was sore. I was frustrated. I was afraid. I wanted to say, “no thanks. I think I’m good here in the US. Where the ground is flat.”

When we got to the Guest House and I realized there were 7 flights of stairs that I’d be traveling each day. I learned quickly to get used to crutches, but I wanted so much to be able to say, “no thanks. Can you just bring the kids up here to my floor? I really don’t feel like jumping down 7 flights of stairs this morning.”

By the end of the week, I was putting the littlest bit of pressure on the walking boot, while still using the crutches, and I was insanely proud of myself. I was in more pain that week than I had ever been before, but it wasn’t really an issue. At night I iced my ankle and during the day I kept it elevated as much as possible. I was fine. I was living with pain, but the rewards of being in Haiti and doing the work were so much greater than the pain.

There’s a song we used to sing at church that I never really liked, to be honest. I always thought it was a little cheezy. The words are, “I’m trading my sorrows. I’m trading my shame. I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord. I’m trading my sickness. I’m trading my pain. I’m laying them down, for the joy of the Lord.” Our translators on the team loved that song, and wanted to play it nearly every night. Each time we sang that line, it hit me in the gut. “Trading my pain for the joy of the Lord.”

The last line of the chorus is, “Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes yes Lord, Amen.”

The second day I was down at the orphanage, we asked one of our translators to teach us an easy Haitian song we could sing with the kids. The words to that song were, “Mwe di wi, wi, wi. Mwe di wi, wi, wi. Mwe di wi, Segne. Mwe di wi, Segne. Mwe’ di wi, wi, wi.” Which translates to, “I say yes, yes, yes. I say yes, yes, yes. I say yes, Savior. I say yes, Savior. I say yes, yes, yes.” So simple. But it meant so much to me that week.

So I’m praying through the pain in my belly (going to get it checked at the doctor’s today, don’t worry!), I’m feeling thankful beyond words for the support I’ve recieved so far, I’m getting excited for tonight’s meeting and the next few days of preparations, and I’m saying yes. Yes to Haiti, yes to flexibility and trust, yes to not being in control, and yes to my Savior who is sweeter than I deserve and will carry me through.

Birthday Extravaganza Pics – Part 3

After we had all the cake and snacks our little tummies could handle, we went outside for a holi color fight. I had seen this idea here a long time ago, and couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then I saw a movie about India and they had a holi color fight in the movie. So when I decided to throw a birthday party for myself, I thought, “now is the time!”

So I scoured the internet to find some holi colors that weren’t expensive. Which is hard work, turns out. I finally found one package on amazon about a week before the party. Lucky ducky!

We put on grungy clothes and headed into the cul de sac.

It was a total blast. You should try it! Fair warning: the purple takes days to come off skin. So… watch out for that.

Birthday Extravaganza Pics – Part 2

I had the best birthday ever last month. I mean, really. Best ever.

We had a three part party, actually. The first part was indoors. We sat around and chatted and laughed. I know a lot of wonderful people.

We had lots of snacks.

My friend, Amanda, made homemade truffles, miniature key lime pies (my birthday tradition), and managed to make the disaster of a cake I baked look beautiful. She might be a wizard.

I love children. Did you know this?

So, in summation: best. birthday. ever.


Thank you to the folks who were able to donate to my trip to Haiti. I’m so blessed to have such generous friends.

The winner of the awesome giveaway is the Chalos family! Congrats, Chad and Kristle! I cannot wait to see your photo shoot with Lillian B. Photography!