Thursday, December 31, 2009

AND, My New Book Is Out

My second book is out: "Prostitutes, Tax Collectors, and You: Church Leadership for Non-Leaders." $9.95!

It is based on the premise that church leadership is really about people of integrity doing what Jesus intended the church to do whether anyone else comes along or not. It has some fun stories as illustrations and a different kind of discussion guide.

You can get it from Amazon: Buy three and get free shipping/

Or you can get it from for $8.95 if you have a Barnes and Noble Membership card. Free shipping there too, if you buy three:

Let me know what you think of it by writing a review where you buy it (and the other seller, too). Thanks again to all who helped. Look for your name in the acknowledgements section.

Magaile, Going Home Tomorrow!!

Magalie is doing so well - eating like a pig, walked to her new room, got her hair done, sitting up in bed, playing, going home tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Magalie Day 19 Since Surgery

Well, we are back in ICU. We scared all the docs yesterday. They were rushing her down the hall to her 2nd CAT scan of the day. They drew blood twice. Once is traumatic; her veins are hard to get into - takes two or more tries. Then they reopened the lumbar drain. All that was about her spinal pressure. We are all wiped out by the end of the day. Charlene went back to the guest house when it was over. Magalie and I had a good night and she has been alert and playful this morning. The ICU staff were glad to see us again (for the 3rd time).

Now we are back in a wait and see mode. Now that the pressure is off her spinal fluid, will it stay down or go back up? If it stays down, we go back home. If it goes back up, they are talking a shunt. A shunt is a problem because of where she lives, but as one of the docs said last night, "If she needs a shunt, she needs a shunt." Please keep her in your prayers.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Magalie, Day 17 Since Surgery

We are still in the hospital. Charlene was here with Magalie Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. She is home now, will put Ricky on nthe plane for south Florida this afternnon then head down here. I'll go home to be with Alex tonight.

The one remaining issue here is drainage from the former lumbar drain site (in her lower back). The doc found where it was leaking this morning and put another stitch in it. She is resting now, but took three walks this morning on her own two feet. We laughed and shared sugar coated corn flakes. She waved at a nurse - a first since surgery.
These pictures are of her discovering her new face for the first time (Saturday), and her playing with her "Princess" baloon." I often introduce her as "Princess Magalie Toussaint."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Magalie Surgery Day Plus 15

We are still in the hospital. The original projection was five days, we are now at three times that target. Still don't know when we'll get to go home. We are all three here now, but Charlene will go home this afternoon. She'll go to church with the boys tomorrow and probably stay long enough to get Ricky back on the plane to south Florida on Monday.

Here is the first "after" picture. Her face obviously has some more healing to do. I am also including a before picture for comparison.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Magalie, Day 13 Post Surgery, Christmas Eve

Sorry for the gap in reports. We divided our efforts in order to cover two fronts. Charlene came home for two nights to get ready for Christmas; I stayed in Rochester with Magalie. Now she is at Mayo and I am home. Matt, Alex and Ricky are playing Monopoly. We are planning dinner here tomorrow for the whole group, minus most of the kids.

Magalie's lumbar drain has been taken out and the brace is off her face. She just moved from ICU to a regular room. Progress! She seems to feel better, too. I won't have pictures until I get back to Rochester on the 26th. Sorry. She still has to stay in the hospital until the infectious disease doc takes her off the IV antibiotics. No date set yet.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Magalie, Day 10, Monday, Good News

Back at the hospital. Charlene and Magalie had a good night. Magalie slept most of the night, was snoring this morning and slept into the morning for awhile. The doc has been in and is allowing her to sit up. She is in Charlene's lap in the rocker and is about to transfer to my lap when I finish this note. Ricky arrives from south Florida tomorrow for the Christmas break. Magalie should be home by Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Magalie, Day Nine

Today has been both uneventful and trying, if the two are not mutually exclusive. Right now we are playing a music CD of little kids songs (not Disney tunes - more like "The More We Get Together," and "Ring Around the Rosie"), very lightly done. The CD and the player are courtesy of the hospital. Magalie is quiet for one of the few times today. She has been agitated most of the day.

But there is a group of the people in the dreaded yellow gowns coming into the room. They have to put another IV line in. We have had a lot of trouble with IV lines and the current one is getting sore. They are putting in a second so they can switch off. She is sooo tired of being poked, prodded, and even looked at.

And there seems to be something else bothering her, but so far we have been unable to identify it. We were thinking earlier that she might be disturbed at having to use a diaper, but that seems unlikely at this point. She still has to lie flat. We are hoping she will be allowed to get up tomorrow.

Writing is my distraction. They are finished now. Our night nurse is going to do all her checks so Magalie can rest awhile. Meanwhile, Alex called and I have to run back to the Twin Cities to take his backpack. Goodnight.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Magalie With Santa

We missed the party last night because Magalie wasn't feeling well enough to truck down the hall. Soooo Santa came to us!

Today, day eight since surgery, has been an okay day. "Granny" has had to hang right with Magalie while Magalie had to lie flat to let the lumber drain do its work. That's hard on anyone. Especially, though, I think, on someone not quite three yet. She did perk up enough to eat - popsicle and ice cream. Here is a picture of Charlene feeding her - a rough life. She may be surprised when it is all over and she has to go back to feeding herself, sleeping alone, and using the toilet.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Magalie Surgery Plus 7 Days

I am in the hospital cafeteria. Magalie is back in surgery. Charlene and Mary B are there as well, until she gets to sleep. Then they will join me here. The docs are going to put a spinal tap in. The theory is that by relieving the pressure on the spinal fluid they can allow the leak in her head to heal. If that does not work, they will have to go in through her new nose to try to find and patch a leak. The Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat people are not at all enthusiastic about that option, saying it will be very difficult to find. Our prayer is that this pressure relief effort results in successful healing. She should be singing and dancing by now, but is hurting instead. Please keep the prayers going.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Magalie Day Six - Good News and Bad

This has been a mixed day. It started well. Magalie pretty much slept through the night. She was in decent spirits early and ate the most for breakfast she has had since surgery. We went for a wagon ride down the hall and met a little boy with terminal cancer. He had a brain tumor removed and was out for a walk. Since then, though, Magalie lost her IV line and they had a terrible time replacing it. It took four tries the first time. Then the new one got infiltrated, and Magalie was uncomfortable all afternoon. They quit using the new line and it took two more tries to get another one in.

Meanwhile the docs are all concerned about her losing spinal fluid out her nose. They are going to put a drain in her spine tomorrow (Friday the 18th). Not sure when we may go home. I will stay in the hospital again tonight, then go home
tomorrow to spend some time with Alex and pick David up after school.
Pictures from yesterday's CAT scan:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Magaile Day Five

One major pre-release goal is for Magalie to eat, and we have passed that mark. The first food since Thursday. She had a softened popsicle, and some baby food bananas. She is scheduled for a CT scan and then we plan to get her into a wagon or stroller for a ride. One other concern is some clearish drainage from her nose. They are testing that now to be sure it is just nasal fluid. Nothing further on release date, except that they went from saying "Thursday or Friday" to saying "Friday or Saturday." I title this photo, "How many women does it take to feed a three year old?"

97 different people have checked the blog so far.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Magalie Day Four

It has been a layed back, slow day. She is still in pain when they let the morphine expire. The morphine makes her sleepy, and she is still not eating or drinking anything. She throws up ocassionally from the drainage from her head collecting in her stomach. So the recovery is going slowly.

The good news is the swelling is going down. They are taking tape off and tubes out. She has been in Charene's lap most of the afternoon.

The docs are still unsure when she will get out of the hospital. Two things are required: that she be off the pain meds and starts eating and drinking.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Magalie Day Three

Magalie is out of intensive care and safely in her new hospital room. She is still pretty miserable, but is looking better each day. The docs are saying she may be able to go to our house sometime later this week - Wednesday through Friday. The brace should come off her new nose about Friday.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

After the Surgery - Day 2

They got the tubes out this morning and Magalie is waking up. Charlene and I both got to hold her this afternoon. She looks like she got run over by a truck. She will not be able to open her eyes for a day or two yet because of all the surgery around them. They have been greased up, so don't look so good. With all that said, here is a picture.

World Hunger

World Hunger: Twelve Myths World Hunger: Twelve Myths by Frances Moore Lappé

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This one really makes you rethink your ideas about humger. The authors take each of the presumed causes and presumed cures for hunger and show why they are not accurate and will not work. Each chapter in well documented, making it a little harder to read, but easier to believe. Toward the end, it begins to feel like a science fiction novel in the vein of 1984. A little scary in that respect.

They assert that the free trade legislation, agricultural trade laws, and even hunger relief efforts go to support the acquisition of more land by the big international corporations, reducing the land owned by individual families. Even when a smaller country is exporting huge amounts of food products, local people are still starving, because it is the international corporations that are doing the exporting, and sending the money out of the country.

The only solutiions, they say, are rather dramatic. They call for land redistribution, and greater sharing by the big international agricultural giants. They call for a balance between the free market and government regulation, in the interest of everyone having a way to produce enough to eat.

I recommend this one for everyone

View all my reviews >>

Sunday Morning

Good Morning!

They plan to bring Magalie out of sedation about 7:00 am CST and pull out the breathing tube. We may be busy for awhile after that. It is reported to be a miserable 15 minutes or so, and I am dreading that part. But on the other side will be the delightful little girl we have come to know so well.

I am struck with her awakening on Sunday morning, having been out since Friday. Coming "back to life" while people all around the world gather to celebrate the coming of life to another who was dead. Hallelujah! Praise Jehovah!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tubes, Terminals, and Staff

I wanted you to see this one:

She remains stable. They have decided to leave the breathing tube in tonight to give her a little more rest and healing time before waking her up. Keep praying.

Saturday Morning - Surgery Day +1

Magalie had a good night. Charlene stayed in the hospital and I went to the House of Compassion about 11:30. She is over there now to clean up. Magalie is still sedated and has a breathing tube in. She will stay sedated until they take out the breathing tube. She also has a feeding tube. It will stay in a little longer. They are not yet sure whether the breathing tube will come out today or tomorrow. It depends on the numbers on the monitor - something about how much oxygen is in her system as I get it. Here are three pix from her arrival in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit last night. As she rounded the corner there were at least six medical professionals hovering over her. Charlene may have better pictures. If so I will post some of them later today. She has her camera with her.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Last report of the Day

They are done! Eleven hours of surgery, fifteen and a half since arriving at the hospital this morning. She is not in the room yet, they are washing her hair, but we should see her soon. We just spoke with the plastic surgeon who has been working on her all day. He described in detail what they have done, said it all went well. We expressed our thanks and he talked about how much they all enjoyed doing this kind of work. God is good and has done an amazing peice of work in bringing all of these people together for this precious little girl, including each of you who have been praying for her. Please keep the prayers going up. Good night.

7:00 Report

We just spoke with the neurosurgeon. Removal of the mass was uneventful. They are constructing a nose now. The eyes have been pulled together. He said she has been stable all day - no problems and none anticipated. Still no concrete time to finish, they will not hurry. He said she is going to look good.

Thanks for your continued prayers. Keep praying, it is not over yet. Last night in Port au Prince 50 people came together for a special prayer service for Magalie. God is good and He has brought her this far. My prayer is for successful surgery for her and for His glory.

I continue to marvel at the generosity of these people who are being paid nothing for all this highly skilled gruelling, technically challenging work. I think especially of the plastic surgeon who is sending so many hours of delicate work for no charge. And of all the others. Thank you, Lord for putting these God-hearted people in our path.

Blog Attendance

So far 70 different people have checked this blog. Keep praying.

4:30 Report

They are predicting the surgery will go til 10:00 p.m.


Latest at 4:20. "She is stable." No other news.

The Latest Non-Report

We had to show up here at 6:00. Went to a prep room, answered tons of questions and got her dressed. She left there a little after 8:00. They put her to sleep between 8 and 9. According to the board surgery began about 10:00. It is predicted to go 10-12 hours, so it could be a very long day. I will attempt to keep everyone up to date via this blog.

Surgery Day!!

Today is the big day. She is in surgery and has been since about 8:30 this morning. We had to be at the hospital at 6:00. Surgery will run 10-12 hours, the first two with the neurosurgeon, the rest with the plastic surgeon. The plastic guy will build her a nose out of her rib. He said the rib cage will be the sorest part. We will stick here until she is out of recovery. Charlene will spend the night tonight. We have LOTS of pictures by now. I will share three from this morning and yesterday.
Discussing the CAT scan with Dr. Wetjen, the neurologist.

Last minute encouragement from Chaplain Stacy Sikes.

Off to surgery.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pix From Last Few Days

Hanging with Granny and Mary B in the waiting room at Mayo.

Enjoying a Cupcake

Getting to know Kevin and Rachel

Checking out the books

Learning about the backyard from Grandpa.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Off To The Mayo Clinic Again

Yesterday's report from Charlene:

Charlene sent the following to her prayer list this morning. It is much better than what I could have reported, so here it is in full:

We had a full day at Mayo yesterday --- saw the plastic surgeon and neurosurgeon; very impressed with both.

The surgery will be much longer than what we were first told ---- at least 10-hrs. The growth on her face is filled with nonfunctional brain matter and the doc assures us there is no danger in removing it from the rest of the brain and said not to be scared about it (easy for him to say :). The neurosurgeon's part will only take about 1 1/2 hrs; the rest will be 8 or more hrs.

The more the plastic surgeon told us, the more I thought, "poor Magalie".
They will take a part of her rib to form a ridge for her new nose, because it will then grow with her. They will use some kind of thin wire to pull her 2 eyes closer together. Amazingly, all the plates and wires they use will ultimately be absorbed by her body. And there are more parts to the surgery, but those are the biggies. He said the main pain following surgery will come from the rib area; minimal pain will be in the head area, for which we are very thankful. I said, "I bet she will
feel like a truck hit her" and he said probably not.

The plastic surgeon said she will have a scar going down the ridge of her nose, but he hopes everything else will be close to normal. Getting the eyes to be the exact same level is tricky but possible and he will do his best. There are so many outcomes from the surgery that will depend on how well her little body heals.

She was a trooper for the 5 hrs we were there --- no surprise. She is an amazing little girl. No whining. Again, she stole the hearts of everyone she came in contact with. Pauline is the woman who has coordinated all the appts. When they phoned her to tell her Magalie was in the office, she said, "Is my baby here?" She'd been eager to meet her. Magalie took to her right away, especially after Pauline carried
her to the break room to a table ladened with Christmas cookies. She took her to every work cubicle she could find to show her off. Fun to watch and great that Magalie "performed" with cute smiles and hand waves.

We travel back down to Rochester late this afternoon in the snow storm to spend the night. She has a CAT scan at 8:30 in the AM (they'll have to sedate her) and then 2 more dr appts. Surgery will probably be around 6AM Fri. What a long-g-g day that will be.

Things have gone so very, very well. Please continue to pray for her these next days. I have no doubt she will continue to be a trooper. It will be hard letting her go to surgery.

Blessings on you all. Charlene

Friday, December 4, 2009

Magalie's mom & friends

Here is a picture of Magalie's mom, MarieRose (on the right), and Roberta.

And another with Magalie's friend Kim Meredith who flew from Haiti to Minnesota with her and Charlene.

Today was an uneventful day. Got out and did some shopping, picked up David who thinks Magalie is soooo special, went to dinner at Subway with David and his dad. They were going on to see a play - "Cinderella." Next appointment at Mayo is 11:00 Tuesday.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Magalie and her friends from KSTP, channel 5, Tim and Kevin. Check out their story at

Magalie's New Friends

Magalie makes new friends wherever she goes.

Marie B, our interpreter.

She thinks her sunglasses are so funny.

Dr. Bibovic, the geneticist.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Info

This morning, Charlene and Magalie took off for Rochester on thier own. Alex has an appointment this afternoon and I need to be here to get him to it. Magalie was not able to eat anything solid because they are putting her to sleep to do an MRI. Apparently that is standard procedure, but it makes us nervous because it was the anesthesia the hospital mentioned in conjunction with all the bad things that could happen (paperwork written by their lawyers, I am sure, but no less scary). As I write this Magalie is in the MRI and it will be another hour before she is recovered.

Also, we learned yesterday that what we have been calling a tumor is actually part of her brain protruding beyond the cranium. That makes me much more nervous about the surgery than I was. Please keep this little girl in your prayers.

Magalie Meets New Folks

Yesterday Magalie got to hang with Stacy Sikes for a bit. Stacy directs the House of Compassion in Rochester ( and serves as a Chaplian for the hospitals there. It was Stacy who first directed Charlene to a doctor at Mayo, who directed her to someone else who directed her to someone else (you get the picture). We spent the night with the Sykes Monday night and he helped us get to our appointments Tuesday.

Magalie and Charlene filling out paperwork.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Magalie the TV star

Right now we are at the Starbucks in the Barnes and Noble in the Rochester Mall. it doesn't get much better than that. Magalie is napping, Charlene is reading, and I am blogging. We have second and third appointments this afternoon. This morning we met the primary care doc, a pediatrician named Dr. Phil Fischer (photo on the left).
Magalie was on local channel 5 Sunday night. Since then every time we go out someone will say, "We saw you on TV." It's a wonderful conversation starter. You can see the short version at They plan to post the longer version later in the week. When I catch it, I will let you know by posting the link here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Magalie meets the bankers and goes grocery shopping

Magalie went to the grocery with Granny and got her hair done by a novice.
And she met the people at the bank who handle the sponsorship money for Roberta's kids.

We are having a great time together.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Magalie Toussaint is an almost three year old girl from Haiti who is visiting with us for a few weeks. She lives in the hill country of northern Haiti. Evelyn Boyd of Haskell Texas discovered Magalie shortly after she was born with a tumor between her eyes. Evelyn connected Magalie with Roberta Edwards, a missionary in Port au Prince, Haiti, who in turn told Charlene about her. It is a longish story which I will probably tell in a later post, but Charlene was able to get the world famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to agree to take the tumor off for free. Roberta, Charlene and others got all the complicated paper work together to get the visa and Charlene flew to Port au Prince last week to bring her here. Kim Meredith flew here with them and plans to return for the surgery. I intend to chronicle her visit here. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 16, 2009

100 proof chaos

I delivered Charlene to the airport this morning for her 6:30 flight to Haiti. In the security line ahead there was a young man wearing a t-shirt with the words "100 proof chaos" on the back. If he had not been inaccessible I might would have asked him about it.

The term "100 proof" stems from the days when sailors were paid in rum. To test whether the rum had been watered down, they would ignite it. If it would burn, it was considered 100 proof. Rum wil burn at about 50 percent alcohol. So "100 proof" means about 50% of the possible strength.

So the young man was telling the world he was in a state that was about half chaos, meaning "a state lacking order or predictability" or a "state of confusion."

Isn't that where the church is today? About half of what we do is highly predictable. We show up on Sunday morning and often the format is exactly as we would have laid it out, based on our experience with having been there before. So at the congregational level we are highly predictable. But across groups of people trying to follow Jesus we are chaotic. One group endorses the practice of homosexuality, another condemns it. One group has women in major speaking roles, another prohibits it. One group insists on baptism for membership, another does not. One group acts on their concern for the poor, another does not.

It would not be a proud label to place on the church, but might be an accurate one. How can we change it? By loving one another anyway, by getting to know each other better, and through dialog. Let's keep talking.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Writing a Blog - Garbage or High Class Stew?

Okay, I've been putting this off for about three years, in part because I'm not so good at keeping up with daily stuff. But mainly, I don't have a theme. Is it unreasonable to believe that the theme will just grow out of the writings? I do know that some of this will be about the church, because I care a lot about the church and I tend to write about it. But there are other things I care about as well. I love my family and really like to write about them. And I am deeply concerned for the rights of the poor. We have good friends in Haiti and I like to tell Haiti stories. I tend to think about my life as all these things lumped into one big homogenized lump - integrated, you might say. And it is really hard for me to compartmentalize my thinking, much less my writing.

So why don't you follow along and let's see what comes out?