Haiti Trip, June 2013

Wow, I did not realize how long it’s been since I had written on here.

This last year was pretty rough for me having looked for a job for 6 months then finally getting one at Bosley Tires. Wanting to be in Haiti when I knew I couldn’t. Well, I was finally able to make it back there June 20-27. I went on a week-long trip with a team with Haiti Lifeline Ministries. I raised a lot of the money to go by selling baked goods at work. There were about 25 of us, I think! Many of the team members, I did not know before the trip and I believe only 7 of us had been to Haiti before. I wanted to go on this particular team in part because my good friend, Ruth Powell, was going to Haiti for the first time.

It started out a little rough for me – on my way to Topeka on the 19th, my car started acting up about halfway there. Long story short, my parents were gracious enough to bring my dad’s car up on his trailer to trade me vehicles so I could still make it. The 2 hour trip took me 6, but I made it anyway. I found out when I came home that my transmission went out and will cost from $1200 – $1800 to get it fixed. Not a fun way to start out a trip to say the least.

God is still faithful! After a year and a half, I was able to be reunited with so many beautiful children that I love and have missed so much!! Quite a few have been adopted out since I was last there. Praise the Lord for these that are now with their forever families!! There are currently 86 children at Lifeline and there were probably close to 20 that I didn’t know.

It was wonderful of course to be able to see, touch, talk with, hug and kiss many children I have missed so much! They were all happy that there was another team of people to love on them, and some especially excited to see me again. The Mamas also had been asking Emily when I was going to come back, so it was wonderful to see these faithful women that take care of and love on the kids.

Our main focus was doing a VBS for the kids and a food distribution. We Did a Bible story for the kids and asked them questions. Then had a game and a craft and usually a little treat, such as a dumdum sucker or “pi willy” (pee willy) as the kids call them.

I spent some special time up in Delva’s room with the little boys, (Gaba, Jameson, Wenky, Ortega, Ti Joel, and maybe a few I’m forgetting) just playing and tickling, which they love! I was sitting kind of in the path between the beds and the boys would run from me. I started coyly telling them they could pass through, then they would get caught and tickled! They would repeat me and giggle when I told them they could go through. It is a sweet memory that I won’t soon forget!!

On Sunday, Noah Vincent, one of the team members, gave a message at church. It was a very powerful message, glory to God! And bonus! four of my friends from the DTS I staffed in Port au Prince in ’11 were able to visit me at the church. Emily, Nicole, Jacque and Jhud. It was so cool that my time in Haiti overlapped with Emily and Nicole’s time there! On Sunday afternoon, we packaged the stuff for the food distribution we had planned for Monday.

A very diligent Chef Ruth got up at 5 am to make cinnamon rolls for us on Monday. They looked delicious, however it is unfortunate that the salt and sugar were put in the same type of container and salt was mistaken for sugar!! I believe someone ate 2 whole ones so as not to make her feel bad. I took one little bite after it was figured out and I believe I got my sodium intake for the week! Ruth was very upset about it, but was able to laugh about it later. We drove for about an hour and a half up into the mountains where I had never been. We even went through a river at one point, which was kind of exciting! If you’ve ever been to Haiti, you know things don’t always go as planned, and when we arrived at the church, it was to our surprise that there was a funeral going on as they thought we were coming later in the afternoon. There was a little debate about the best thing to do. The team leader, Tom, did not want us to have to wait 3 hours for the funeral to be over, but it would have been sorely disappointing to the people expecting food if we just left to take it somewhere else. So as respectful as we could be in the midst of a funeral, we unloaded the bags into a room in the church for the pastor to distribute later. I commented when we finished that it had been the fastest, quietest and calmest food distribution I’ve ever been a part of.

We had a beach day on Tuesday and were able to take 10 of the oldest kids (Aicha, Misterline, Shela, Nathalie, Shelly, Guerby, Master, Mackenson, Lucbert, and Camille) thanks to Bob Moeder. Bob is a very generous man that I met through my friend, John, who works at Carmax. I sold some cookies to John and he shared them with Bob and told him about what I was doing. I used part of the money he gave me to get to Haiti, part of it to take the kids to the beach, bought Tangled for the kids to watch (which they loved!) and the rest went toward their snacks. There were also 2 adoptive families with us that are adopting Mckinley and Erwing, and Kellens and Kervens, so we had them with us as well. It was a fun day! Made more so by the fact that my dear friend, Rose, who works at YWAM St. Marc, got to come meet me there. I hadn’t seen her since before I left in Feb. 2012, so it was great to catch up in person! Philipson, my “brother” also randomly stopped by for a few minutes, and it was great to see him as well!

We had a wonderful last day with the kids, just soaking in as much of them as possible. It’s always hard on the last day when you know you’re leaving tomorrow.

There were some really great team times in the evenings. Usually some of us ended up hanging out talking, laughing and playing Golf (the card game) or making friendship bracelets, or just looking at the moon until pretty late.

I haven’t got all my pictures up yet, but hopefully I’ll get that done after I post this novel!! 🙂 Check out my Facebook for photos. If you have any questions about my trip, I’d love to tell you more about it!!

 

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Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord to Thee!

Half a month later, I’m back. Can you believe how this year is flying speed-racing by?? Craziness! 
All of this time that I’ve had without a job I don’t think I’ve managed very well. I’ve been told by several friends that I should be journaling and processing my time in Haiti. At first, my excuse was that I didn’t know where to start. But I really just didn’t want to/know how to deal with stuff! And I knew I was going to have to surrender my life and things in it. Say what?? 🙂 But I’ve decided that I’m ready to live with open hands again. God can place things in them and remove things from them as He pleases. What does surrender mean anyway? Dictionary.com says ‘to yield (something) to the possession or power of another.’ The words to the song ‘Take my life and let it be’ come to mind. 

In other news, I filled out an application to be a detailer at Carmax last night and got a call this morning. I had a phone interview and I have a real interview on Monday. So hopefully that will pan out. 

Aunt Mary is coming this weekend for Labor Day. Pretty excited for that!!! I am also turning 26 *gasp* on Sunday. It’s kinda crazy! I was talking to Emily, who turned 26 on Tuesday, the other day and I said, “we’re getting old!!!”

This post was kind of all over the place, but … that’s my life!! 🙂 

No spot lights in the sky

So… who really knows anything?? I don’t. Every time I think I do… I actually don’t. I’ve been in Colorado for 2 1/2 weeks now. I’ve applied to quite a few jobs and gotten minimal responses. I had an interview at a hotel last Monday that went well and was basically offered the job. It was to be about 32 hours a week, $8/hr, no benefits. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but I figured I’d take it since I wasn’t being offered anything else. I was supposed to let him know on Friday if I wanted the job. I called on Thursday, he was out, so I left a message. Called on Friday, he was out. I called on Saturday and left another message. Haven’t heard a word. 

Last week, I was blessed enough to work for a friend’s aunt in Castle Pines, Co, taking care of my friend’s Poppy and cousins. I was really blessed through Poppy (and being able to make some money). Poppy really encouraged me in the Lord. 

Saturday, I was told about a job back home that pays $17/hr. I was pretty interested in that. I called Monday morning and emailed my resume and explained that I’m in Colorado, but would come back for an interview. Haven’t heard a word. 

I don’t know what the right answer is. It’s frustrating. Some days I cry. Then I eat some chocolate or bake something. Then I do my Bible study and spend some time with the One who does know the right answer.  Some days I yell at Him too. I think that’s ok. I think David yelled at Him sometimes too. I feel like my catch phrase over the last several months has been, “I don’t know” I say it ALL the time.

I read an article tonight on Relevant.com asking if you’d still follow Jesus if your life doesn’t turn out like you though it would/should. It really put some perspective on my situation. I also read one about how our generation is really bad at making decisions/choosing. Last Tuesday, I spent the night with one of my room mates from my DTS, Jackie. I was telling her how I’m so bad at deciding things. Even just choosing a move or a candy treat for our movie. That article really speaks to me right now. 

Anyway, the skies did not open. No spot light shined the way to the right direction. The perfect job did not fall in my lap. A perfect small group/community did not divinely show up on my path. Do I still trust God? Yes. Do I have hope for my future even when I have no clue what to expect? Yes. Is everything rainbows and flowers? Not in the least! Do I know that “God’s timing is perfect”? YES, for goodness sake, I do! BUT! It doesn’t make it any easier to be in a season of uncertainty. 

My friend, Jackie, has done a ton of Beth Moore Bible studies and suggested I get one. I chose one called Believing God. In the Intro, she talks about how a lot of times we believe in God, but don’t actually believe God. I think that describes how I’ve been lately. Honestly, it’s been a struggle to combine ‘Haiti God’ with ‘America God’. When the physical and spiritual needs there are so great and visible, but back in America, it seems that the spiritual need is great, but not as visible. 

Anyway, there’s me, keepin’ it honest and real 🙂

Out of silence

And so I break my silence of the last several months. 

I really meant to write more updates. I really meant to write more, to journal more, to process more.

Instead, I kept my brain too busy to think about things. I turned to Netflix instead of praying and journaling. I buried my nose in 10 electronic books instead of the one that is Life. I partially isolated myself because I didn’t want to think about the hard things. I stayed up too late and slept the day away. 

It’s time to bring myself back – with God’s help because that’s the only way it will happen. 

I haven’t known what to say really. That I hate not being in Haiti with Emily and 100 beautiful faces at Lifeline. That I miss that city with dirty air, crowded streets, and beautiful, resilient people. That I love being home with my family where I get to play with my nephew, Adam, and nieces, Brenlyn and Aryn – that I actually get to watch them grow and learn. That I hate being in this time of transition where I have no idea what’s in store for my future. That I love knowing that God has plans and there is hope for my future. That I feel if I’m not careful I could fall into the rut that I lived in for so many years – doing and saying the right things, but not meaning them. That I have kind of forgotten the crazy grace that God poured out on that Belvil house and it’s 80+ inhabitants over that crazy summer just one year ago. 

Never forget.
I don’t want to ever forget the ways that God proved Himself faithful in that house with no water and minimal electricity. With it’s stinky bathrooms, crowded classroom, and people sleeping everywhere at night. I’ll never forget the way He provided water through our neighbors. The way He answered a simple prayer to a girl with her hands held open in the form of an iPod touch. The way I could still understand my Haitian brothers and sisters even if I didn’t understand what they were saying. They way God rolled through our worship times on that balcony and would not let us move on from offering up that sweet fragrance to Him. I’ll never forget the chains that were broken and the freedom I saw and felt. The time we had communion and then yelled off the hillside. The way He provided a ridiculous amount of money for everyone to go on outreach and it be totally paid for. The way He provided visas in the most unlikely situations. The laughter. The tears. The growing and stretching. 

Image

(Photo credit: Jasen Chung)

So now what?

How do I find God to be as faithful here? Where water shortage is not an issue. Where I sleep in a queen sized bed by myself instead of a 3 inch mat on tile floors. Where I basically have a bathroom to myself. And no one needs to borrow my stuff. Where I have my space and quiet. 
Where I have felt like no doors have been opening for opportunities for jobs. Where I have looked long and hard for a car and a job. 

On Sunday, my Aunt Mary called and asked if I would want to visit her this weekend for Dodge Days in Dodge City. I said I would love to, but would have to work out the vehicle situation first. I told my mom about it. She mentioned it to my dad on Monday morning, and he said, “If she finds a car by then, because I don’t want her to take my car.” When Mom told me Dad had said that, I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to go. I thought to myself, ‘I’ve been looking for weeks and haven’t been able to find anything, how am I supposed to find something within the next several days??’ 

Well I finally found a car yesterday. Bought, tagged and legally mine. I was getting a little depressed having looked so much that I wasn’t going to find a car that I wanted. I could have bought a Buick or a tan car (neither of which I wanted all that much). I know, I know, sometimes you have to take what you can get. But see, I serve a faithful God and I wanted a certain kind of car. A Honda Accord. I used to have one that served me well and I loved that Honda car. But then I sold it so I could go to a place I loved more: Haiti. Now God has provided me with a black ’99 Honda Accord that I’m sure I will love as well. It even has a CD player, audio input (for iPods), SD input, and USB input. It just turned over 162,000 miles on it yesterday. I am very happy with this car!

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Next week, I’m going to push on a few doors. After I spend the weekend in Dodge City, I am heading on to Colorado Springs. Aunt Kathy has been offering for the last 3 years or so for me to live with her and work out there. I have looked at jobs online and even applied for a few out there, but I think it’s time to go in person and nudge this door a little more to see what’s behind it. 

Please keep praying for me as I continue searching for where God wants me at this time. 

 

It’s Physics!

Team 3 of 23 people arrived safe and sound yesterday afternoon. Bags were sorted and unpacked. Children were loved on. A mother met a daughter for the first time – a very sweet moment.

We are very excited about all the projects this team will be accomplishing. One exciting thing was that Payless donated 100 pairs of shoes. Some of us ladies sorted through them and then all of the shoes from the shipment and last year’s leftover shipment shoes. There’s A LOT of shoes!! Plus two boxes that we want to give away, and a decent sized box of shoes that have no match. We will be giving all of the kids a pair tomorrow, I believe.

It has been interesting seeing what goes on around here on a daily basis. Nicole has surprise visits from Unicef, government inspectors and other people come all the time needing different things. She’s told Emily and I that she’s very glad we’re here. And it’s nice to know we’re helping in some way.

Please pray for us as we continue to learn how to love the kids in a Godly way and a good way to discipline them. That we’d be able to love the kids even when they are testing their limits. Pray that this we would all be protected from attacks of the enemy. I am continually amazed by the Lord’s faithfulness here.

Little Haitian giggle whispers

So one of my favorite things is when the little kids whisper in my ear. I usually can’t tell what they’re saying, but they usually giggle and it tickles my ear. Gaba likes to whisper in my ear. It brings joy to my heart. The little ones love to be tickled til they can’t breathe also and their giggles bring joy to me then as well. It’s so funny how they pretend to run away, but go slow enough to be caught.

Today is Monday – malaria pill day. Kids back in school day. Begin preparations for Team 3 day. Praise the Lord for Life especially life without malaria. Praise the Lord for sweaty faces to kiss. Praise the Lord for Haiti friends coming to visit. Praise the Lord for little hands to hold. Praise the Lord for He is faithful. Praise the Lord for chats with Haiti sisters. Praise the Lord for the work You’re doing in the lives of my friends. Praise the Lord for Skype to talk to family and friends. Praise the Lord for Your love for us. Praise the Lord for the gift of His Son to save us. Praise the Lord for His Holy Spirit to guide us.

Team 2

We picked up all 24 members of Team 2 last Wednesday. The guys went to the church and started their part on the roof Team 1 had started. It only took them 3 days to finish out the project. The pastor was very grateful for the work they had done. If you want to see photos of the finished project, go to the group Haiti Lifeline Ministries on Facebook and look at the photos.

The ladies stayed back and worked on different little projects. We got the rest of the leftovers from last year’s shipment all sorted or thrown out. (Note to people that send stuff on the shipment: Please don’t send stuffed animals or 5X sized t-shirts – we don’t know anyone that big 🙂 The babies got lots of lovin this week from these amazing girls!

Melissa Shultz asked Nicole at breakfast the other day if they ever eat the goats or just use them for milking. Nicole said they do eat it and that she would make it for dinner for us. That is not what Melissa intended, but we had goat for dinner! We did a food distribution that afternoon. Daniel and Nicole took us to a church that lost everything in the earthquake. They had no church building and the pastor and his family live in a tent. Nicole and Daniel’s church raised some money for them and they got the foundation and the footings done with that, but they need more to finish their building. Right now they meet in a cramped little building made of tin and tarp. The people were very thankful for the food and soap we gave them. We gave them pre-packaged bags of lentil-looking beans. Sabetha High School donated a bunch of protein fortified grain and we are so grateful for it. We packaged up some more of it last night in some tote bags that were donated by a ladies church sewing group for another distribution we are doing this morning. We will be taking more of the pre-packaged bags and soap to another poor area this afternoon.

God has been showing me lately how faithful he is. I always think it’s fun and interesting to be with people experiencing Haiti for the first time. It really gives you a new and different viewpoint every time. He’s also just teaching me to rest in Him and turn to Him for every little thing. As I think about what my future holds, I don’t have to worry about it because I know my Heavenly Father has it under control. It’s kind of an exciting place to be for me – the planner, the worrier who is learning to relax – to take one step, one day at a time.

Last night Nicole shared with the group how she started Lifeline and how faithful God has been through all the trials over the years. Through starting with nothing but a tree to being given a piece of land to unexpectedly receiving a team of 40 from Teen Missions that built her a building. To now when there is much land, several buildings, good employees, 102 children, monthly support, and the government is starting to change how things are done. It’s hard to change things here, but change can be good.

Thank you Lord, that you hold all your children in your hands. Thank you that you see us. Thank you for what you’re teaching me through Mama Nicole and these children (even if that is patience:).

Me and Gaba-baba

Here we go again…

Today I’ve been back in Haiti for a week and 4 days. Being at Lifeline is a completely different atmosphere than YWAM and especially DTS.

Emily O’Byrne moved here with the first team and we came on January 4. While some projects and things didn’t go as planned, Team 1 got a lot accomplished. We got the first part of the Denton shipment and got it unloaded and sorted. The men started on the roof for a church that was damaged in the earthquake. We played with the kids a lot and got to love on them and did some other smaller projects around here. There were some really awesome people on Team 1! Andrea O’Byrne got to come for the first time as well as Hannah Vincent, two good friends of mine. It’s always fun to share Haiti and this place that I love so much with people that I love. We were sad to see them go, but Team 1 left on Thursday.

UNICEF is shutting down about 500 orphanages in Haiti and is trying to find different orphanages to take the kids. Nicole has been going to a lot of meetings about this. She agreed to take some kids. So we received 21 kids – 18 boys and 3 girls – on Friday. I think their ages are about 4 to 12. Our kids look really healthy next to them. Emily and I were struck with the sadness of being tossed here and there as they were getting off the bus. Please pray for these kids as some of them are kind of scared. When Emily and I went to sing and pray with the girls, we were saying goodnight and when I hugged one of the new girls she started crying and again last night when I was up there she was crying again. Again, please pray for these children!! That girl’s name is Mimose (me-mose).

The second part of the shipment arrived yesterday, so when Team 2 arrives on Wednesday, there will be plenty to do. There are 24 people on this team plus Emily and I. Since we got the new kids, we don’t have an extra room to put the men in. Please pray for wisdom for us as we figure out the best way to house everyone.

I put photos on my Facebook just now, so you should be able to view them here

And we’ll say, “remember when…”

And we’ll say remember when:

We worshiped in the streams of living water

Slept on a red roof under the stars

Or on a balcony full of belle fi

Or in a tent on the ground or on a roof

Laughed until we cried

Bathed with buckets of water carried up the street on our heads

Flushed with green water ported from the pool

Used trash bags taped on for curtains

Rode in the backs of trucks, packed in like sardines with wind mussing our hair

Remember when God’s presence was so thick we were on our knees or faces or had our arms lifted high in abandon to the Most High

We built water tanks in 4 or 5 days

Gleaned the wisdom spoken to us through so many amazing speakers God brought us

Praised the Lord for rain so we could shower with as many gallons as we wanted to

Started a church in a tent city where it doesn’t matter what you wear on your body but what’s in your heart that matters

Had dance parties late into the night

Prayed for water to come out when we turned on the faucet

Transformation, freedom, life, joy, change happened

Lived with 80 to 100 people in one little Belville house that God graciously expanded

We became a family

Had a great day because of the delicious apple we ate that day

Held dirty hands and kissed sweaty faces of little embodiments of hope for Haiti

Drank a ton of Toro and Coca and ate too many zaboka to count

When the blans learned Creole and the Haitians learned English

Gave away what Jesus told us to

Celebrated by carrying friends high overhead

When visas were approved and we screamed and cried, laughed and hugged

When Haiti changed because of the way we led out

All the tears we cried because we love Haiti so much

We took 46 Haitian, American, Australian, Guamanian students to change the nations

 

closing time

3 ministry times remain. 3 days til Haiti and home. 5 days til I see a bunch of ti moun I’ve missed so much. A few more days and I hopefully get to visit Nicole and Lifeline to see more of my precious ti moun. 10 days til DTS is fini. Hopefully, I’ll get to see my dear friend, Rose, in St. Marc. 16 days til KS and home.

We’ve been working with a lady named Gina. She trains teachers in Santiago. We have done  our dramas and shared with many different groups of kids. I believe many lives have been impacted. There are different groups of kids that go to a center run by a young lady named Heidy, who is very sweet and gracious. We did our program and shared there several times. On Friday, we went to a public high school and did the Libera Mi and Water of Life dramas and shared testimonies. At the end we had a call for those to come forward who wanted to give their lives to Jesus. There were about 100 kids that came forward!!! Praise the Lord!! Please join us in praying for these young people – that they would make a genuine commitment to the Lord and that their lives would be changed, that they would be able to withstand peer pressure and the other pressures of being a teenager. This evening, we will be going to work at another public high school to do our dramas and share testimonies. Pray that it wouldn’t be our words, but the words of the Holy Spirit spoken through us and that we would impact a lot of lives for the Kingdom.

Tomorrow, we will be going to Puerto Plata for the day to do ministry on the streets there. Pray for us to have divine appointments and be obedient where God leads us.

Thursday evening, we will be going to work with a church we’ve worked with before to do ministry on the street.

Friday, we will be heading to the AIRPORT to FLY back to Haiti!! This is very exciting for us to be able to have the money for our students to be able to fly!! It was such a God thing that we are able to. Rhoda Martin (YWAM Santiago) and Nate worked hard to get the right price. They dropped the price by $500 for us, are letting us bring our extra luggage, and provided at-home service by bringing the tickets right to Rhoda and Glenn’s house. Praise the Lord!!!

Pray for our team to finish out strong!!

In other news, my bestie Hannah Sears and her husband, Branson, are proud parents to little Braylon Emery!!

Braylon Emery

Not going to lie, that was a really hard day! I’ve known Hannah since she was born and naturally became best friends. I’ve always known her in her not pregnant state. When I came back to Haiti in April, she was pregnant, but not really showing. Then I went home for Sarah’s wedding and felt like she had one of those blow up baby bumps under her shirt. She didn’t. It was real. Very real. I felt the kicks. Her first child and I wasn’t there.

These are the times when you really count the cost of being a missionary. I was in Orlando when my nephew, Adam, was born. I’ll be in Haiti probably when my first neice, Brenlyn, arrives (unless Kim can hold her in… but the dr moved her due date up a week to November 11, so I don’t see that happening). That day, October 29th, I cried many tears. Happy, sad, frustrated, elated. I’m sure there will be more next week when I miss another important day in my family.

God is faithful… thanks for that, Abba!