Sunday, September 28, 2008

Miracles and Blessings Flow

To all of you who follow my trip and lift me in your prayers,

My thanks and gratitude to you! What a week I have had! Everything and nothing has happened and I find it difficult to think there was enough worth mentioning to fill these paragraphs but as usual with my writings the words seem to write themselves. We started out with a new little guy brought into our care, a little boy about 15 months old , with a very "american" style name. Funny because is not a common Haitian name but a small reminder to all of us of the worlds we left behind. M was a special case for me and I can't help but feel for him each time I pass his crib. He is old enough to be missing his Mama and it is heartbreaking to see the despair in his eyes as he sits in his bed and looks out at all of these strangers that are now surrounding him. Like the other kids at GLA soon he will become familiar to this new world around him and within a few months he will be fitting in with everyone but the next weeks will be a difficult adjustment for this little baby. Please remember Baby M in your prayers.

I had the opportunity early in this week to go visiting the home of a missionary to the area who I know from my last trip down here. We were invited for a feast of fresh lobster tails and rice with a delicious creole sauce, Molly and Joyce made onion rings to compliment the meal. All the food I have had here has been a treat but the lobster was especially great! While we were waiting for dinner to finish we had another treat, American satellite TV! I was able to catch some news from home and a special on the best and worst dressed stars at the Oscars, oh the important current events I have been missing :)

I have seen first hand this week the healing that God provides. First in our little guy who I wrote to you about last week, who is now off of all IV lines and eating well on his own. He is still tiny, weighing about 7 or 8 pounds and being 9 weeks old, but he is healing fast and will be growing quickly I am sure. The second healing I have seen in one that touched my heart very deeply. There was a baby boy here at GLA in April who was one of the sweetest kids I encountered. One that I often remembered at thought of while I was at home. When I left last spring K has just celebrated his first birthday and was very developmentally delayed. He couldn't sit up or roll over, he couldn't even hold his own head up for more than a few seconds. K had tested positive for HIV. It seemed there wasn't much hope for this little guy, there was just too much working against him. When I found out that I was going to be working with K on this next trip I was excited, he was such a sweet baby, I knew he would be a joy. I returned to Haiti and the child I left behind was not the same one that greeted me. K is crawling! He is pulling himself up to stand in his bed. He has made amazing progress. If you had asked me 5 months ago if I thought he would ever walk I would have said absolutely not, and now I am confident that in one of my very soon updates I will be telling of K's first steps! The best news of all is that last week I was told that K is not testing positive for HIV anymore! Up until a child is 18 months old he can carry the virus from his mother and test positive for the disease without actually being infected. I am told this is what happened with K, he is now 19 months old. Should I try to excuse this miracle with a medical explanation? I don't' think so! K was healed and God is showing Himself through this amazing little boy. Now K needs another miracle. Because of his developmental delays (he is still considerably behind where he should be) he is difficult to adopt. He needs a very special family to step up and chose to love him. I am praying faithfully and fervently for a family for K. The adoption process in Haiti takes a long time and this baby doesn't need to wait any longer. Please join me in prayers for a family for K! God has used this baby in an amazing way and I am confident he will continue to do so! I will keep you all updated on him!

Yesterday I got to take in PetionVille for some shopping and lunch. I was able to purchase some beautiful paintings and we found a sandwich shop where I enjoyed some fresh vegetables that I didn't even know I had missed, green peppers never tasted so good! On the way back up the mountain we stopped at the lookout. It is a place that overlooks all of Port Au Prince, you can see from the airport to the ocean. A beautiful view of a city that very few could find beauty in. I spent a few minutes looking out, millions of people below me and found myself paying as naturally as I breathed. There isn't much else to do at a point like that. To see the beauty and pain right next to each other. People need Jesus here and I can feel him moving, but there is still much work to be done. I pray that they will give him the chance to rise them up. Haiti can only be healed through the power of Christ and the citizens will be strong if they allow God to work in them. We all know there is nothing impossible to the God we serve!

We still aren't holding church services on Sundays, since our missionary family who usually hosts them is still in the States. I must say, I am missing the fellowship and worship time that comes along with a meeting specifically designed for that purpose. I have the blessing of a beautiful balcony off of my room with a view of the mountains and the area below. A lot of nights I sit out there and have my devotional time and I have started using that space for some quiet praise and worship as well. I pray that will hold me up until our weekly meetings start again.

I am faced with another week full of possibilities and I can hardly wait to see what they will be. Please keep praying for my strength and health in the coming days. We have a few children who are feeling unwell and I ask that you pray for a quick healing for them. I am taking Creole classes and find that the language is coming to me quickly! Praise God! Continue to pray that I would have an ear and tongue for these beautiful words. I have a special journey ahead of me on Tuesday of this week that I will share with you in my next update, I anticipate that this will be a difficult day for me and I especially ask for your prayers on that day. As always, I remember each of you in my prayers of thanksgiving for this journey that I am on.

Seeing miracles every day,

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Right Where I Need To Be

Greetings from Haiti!

How wonderful it feels to be able to say that! Praise the Lord! All of my flights were uneventful. Everything was on time and all of my bags arrived right where they were supposed to. I spent the night between my flights in the Fort Lauderdale airport which was fairly uncomfortable but more convenient than trying to gather all my bags into a taxi for a hotel visit, just to turn around 5 hours later and come back. I had the amazing blessing of flying to Haiti with 2 families who are adopting children from our orphanage! One couple is here to pick up their twin boys who were the very first children I ever worked with at GLA! It is so encouraging for me to see my work in full circle. What a way to get me excited for the work I will be doing here!

As our plane touched the ground a cheer rose from the passengers. Stepping off the plane in Port Au Prince was truly like coming home. In the many times I have gone away and returned to Fergus Falls, I have never felt so much like I was back home as when I stepped onto that pavement. If there weren’t so many people around I probably would have kissed the ground beneath my feet! I settled for reaching down and placing my hands on it. I said a prayer for the country I have been called to and set off on a long hot walk. After arriving in customs, amidst a true Haitian greeting, with a band and some dancing, and making my way quickly through customs I found myself in the baggage claim area. How different it is the second time around. Last time I came to Haiti the activity and confusion were overwhelming. This time it just felt welcoming. I found someone to help me with my bags and set off again! Finally making it out of the airport and into the sun! James was there to pick us up and I was greeted by my first familiar face. Of course this made me so anxious to get to the orphanage and see all my babies again! After a 45 minute drive that felt like it took hours we pulled up to the gate. I was home!

Walking in I was hit by the smell that I just couldn’t get myself to remember. I never thought I would miss the smell of orphanage, but my goodness! Even that was welcome to me on that afternoon! We arrived just in time for lunch. SPAM sandwiches and cold sweet potato casserole was on the menu. Not my favorite meal but after long hours of traveling I found myself thoroughly enjoying the wonder of SPAM.

Finally it was time to go upstairs and see the babies, the very thing that brought me back here! Of course my first stop was to see my "Ella-baby"! I could hardly believe how big she has gotten. She looks like a totally different child. But the face that I fell in love with is still the same. With her big open mouth grins and her beautiful eyes that stole my heart away 6 months ago! Oh how I loved on that baby. I made the rounds to the other nurseries, seeing kids who were still here so grown up and rejoicing for the ones that were sent home in the time I have been away! It seems much has changes and still everything is the same. The people and faces are different but the goal we all work toward remains. There were some sad moments along the way as well. After supper I spent some time on the balcony alone, watching the sun set, rocking and remembering. I remembered a baby that I did not get to greet.
One of the faces I looked forward to seeing the most but had missed by just a few weeks. A little girl who was the light of our balcony! Berlancia brought so much joy during my last trip here! I heard of her passing and I grieved, and when I came back and it was truly real to meI grieved again. I spent a lot of time that night in tears and prayer. I praise God that He took her to a place where she feels no more pain or sickness, a place where she is whole, the way she was meant to be. And in it all I also, selfishly, grieved for myself that I would not hold her again this side of heaven. I will never forget that baby and the life she lived. I know that God will continue to use her life and her story to impact people. AIDS in Haiti is a very serious problem and through the testimony of one little girl many people will have this epidemic brought to their attention. I just hope that they will listen to it that maybe someday, something will be done to change the statistics that are not numbers but faces.

I have so much I feel I want to share with you. But can I describe the smell in the air, the feeling of the rain on my skin, the joy in the pit of my soul? There are no words. I am so content to finally be here! I am still convinced that this is the exact work I was created for. I am at peace! Again I thank all of you for traveling these roads with me. I feel we are at the beginning of an amazing journey!

Some specific prayer requests I have this week… Please pray for a little tiny boy we have here. who is very sick. Just in the 2 days I have been here I have seen him fade. We are all very fearful for this little life. There is nothing to do now but wait and pray! So pray we will. A healing for this baby is what we need! Please also pray for the health of everyone here at GLA. The first week is the window for the travel sickness and the “haitian happiness” that I wish to avoid. Pray I will stay strong and not fall to weakness of my body but that I will be renewed each day for the work I am to do.

I must close now, I have many babies to love and children to hug! I thank you all again and praise God for you in all my prayers!

Right were I need to be and always in His care,

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I'm Going Home

I am now just days away from returning to Haiti and God’s Littlest Angels. The hours keep passing, although at times painfully slow. But I can now look ahead and see that in less than one week I will once again be flying away.

It is strange to think that 5 months ago I was preparing for the same trip, but with such different plans. Little did I know I would ever be traveling that same path again, let alone just a few months later. And yet, here is where I find myself. Once again, packing and weighing and repacking and weighing again. Planning airport trips and hotel rooms for layovers, getting ready to say goodbye to the ones I leave behind, and also to meet the people who will be the most important part of my life for the next 9 months.

In May when I came home from GLA I still wasn’t sure that I was ready to commit to a longer trip. Sure I had an amazing time, but I just couldn’t let go of such a huge amount of time. Over the course of that month God just worked through me so much. He didn’t let up and I am so thankful! I can’t believe how much I have already been blessed and I haven’t even gotten there yet! I went to GLA to hold babies, I did not expect them to hold on to me. How can I leave the place where I my soul was so alive. To borrow words from a dear friend of mine and fellow GLA volunteer, “the babies of Haiti grabbed on to my heart and held on, and in the grasps of those tiny hands is where the pieces remain.” How can I stay away from a place that holds my heart?

Once the plans to return to Haiti were in place I became the most anxious person alive! I did not want to be here. I just wanted to go back! The months ahead of me seemed like they would never be over. Why in the world would God keep me away from those babies for so long? What could I possibly be doing here that is more important than being with them? Well during this last week it came to me. The reason I had to wait so long to go back to Haiti was because God had a very special lesson to teach me. Over the course of this summer I have been forced to put the trust of my finances entirely in Him. Having the financial worry being the biggest challenge of this trip, I soon became nervous. I know that God has a plan for me and that He is always in control but the human inside me just was not willing to give it entirely up to him. After spending much time with this worry I knew that I couldn’t do it anymore. I spoke to a friend who told me that God just wanted me to give it all to Him. To let Him work it out. I took a big step one Sunday in doing that, and the results have been amazing. Since that day, every moment of worry has been followed by blessings beyond comprehension. It seems that the moment I start to worry, the money flows in. I have never been more convinced that I am doing the will of God! A beautiful poem was once shared with me, I don’t think that the friend who gave it had any idea the impact it would have but I would like to share it with you, it is called Broken Dreams.

Broken Dreams
As children bring their broken toys
With tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God
Because He was my friend.
But then instead of leaving Him
In peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
With ways that were my own.
At last I snatched them back and cried,
"How could you be so slow"
"My child," He said, "What could I do?
You never did let go."
Robert J. Burdette

I have found that in letting go I receive so much. That when I give my hopes, dreams and struggles to God is when He blesses me more than I could ever imagine. As much as I have hated being away from my babies for such a long time, the lesson was one I will continue in the rest of my life. I am thankful for the pain of the growing and now I look forward to the future in that assurance!

3 days from now I board my flight. I will do so immersed in a joy that I have found through the beautiful country of Ayiti and the people she holds. I move forward in the hands of my Lord, protecting me and guiding me, and with the prayers of all of you, my supporters in this journey, always surrounding me. There are no words enough to thank you for all you have done for me. I hope that through these letters you will all travel with me over the next 9 months.

Always in His care,