Monday, April 26, 2010

Who Needs It Most…

"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O Lord, endures forever." Psalms 138:8

In my life there have been a few people who have made an impact on me that was truly life changing. People who have challenged me and inspired my very way of thinking.
Kervens is one of them.

You can read about Kervens in this previous post.
Kervens entire life story is spotty. I know that he lived in an orphanage for a number of years where he received an education and was taught English, which he speaks almost perfectly. I know that last year he was sponsored to go to school. I know that his school was non-functioning after the earthquake. I know that his father and sister are dead and that after the earthquake his mother was missing. I know that he lives with someone he calls a "father-in-law". That fact that he uses this term only intensifies my fears for Kervens...

Restavek (according to wikepedia):
A restavec (or restavek; from the French reste avec, "one who stays with") is a child in Haiti who is sent by their parents to work for a host household as a domestic servant because the parents lack the resources required to support the child. The restavek may be treated well, or abused. Restavek may refer to a child staying with a host family, but usually refers specifically to those who are abused.
In Haiti, parents unable to care for children may send them to live with more affluent families. This is perceived as acceptable because in Haitian culture, it is ubiquitous for housing to be shared among members of an extended family, including distant relatives. (In contrast, the concept of a single nuclear family occupying each household is seen as desirable in other cultures.) Therefore, in Haiti it is acceptable for parents to send children to distant relatives to live. Often these relatives are living in more urban areas. The children receive food and housing (and sometimes an education) in exchange for housework. However, many restavecs live in poverty, not receiving an education.[citation needed] Sometimes, the child is raped. The United Nations considers restavec a "modern form of slavery".

Since I met Kervens I have wondered about his home life. He often refers to his "father-in-law", a commonly known term used by restaveks, and though I have seen several other children in the home, he only ever speaks of one "sister" who was killed in the earthquake.

The first time I met Kervens he was sitting on the steps outside a nearby church. When he saw me his eyes lit up, he came running to walk alongside me. This happens often so I didn't pay much attention, that is, until Kerven spoke. In broken, yet beautiful English he said "Alo, my name, it is Kervens. Welcome to Haiti" Oh how I treasured that welcome, 5 months into my stay ;) Kervens then went on to tell me how he was at church and he needed to get back. He returned and sat on the steps outside. I wondered about the curious sight but continued on my way. A few days later I spotted Kervens again, this time in the middle of the day when most other Haitian children are in school. Again, he walked with me. He told me of his past, living in an orphanage and learning English. He told me he loved to read and that one day he wanted to grow up and become a "businessman". Mostly, he talked about his faith. At 14 he was incredibly mature. He spoke about "Jezi" and how he saved him. He spoke about how God sees his heart and knows that he can do great things because of God's love for him. I was mesmerized. For several days Kervens walked and talked with me. Finally after a week I was courageous enough to ask Kervens about the first day I met him, sitting outside of the church. I asked him why he was sitting outside on the steps instead of inside with everyone else. What he said was something I will remember as something that broke my heart in a very uncommon way. He said, "Miss Rhyan, I sit outside because of my clothes. I love Jezi but he did not want to give me many, many things. he gives me food to eat, some days and he gives me these clothes I have but no more. I don't have a tie to wear and if I want to go into church I need to have nice pants, nice shirt and a tie, you know, to dress nice for Jezi."

Breathless. That's how I felt after hearing his reasoning. Kervens is accepting of a life that is unacceptable! That he has food to eat SOME days. That he is not allowed to enter a church because of the clothes he wears, it is unacceptable to me. But in Haiti, it is life. I can not be offended enough to change that. And as much as I hate some things, I do not WANT to change Haiti. That is not my purpose there. My purpose is to serve, to love and to accept, even the things that to me are, unacceptable.

Do you remember this story?

That was Jocelyne, you can read about her on Dixie's blog as well . I have known Jocelyne for several years, ever since I came to Haiti. I watched her belly grow when she was pregnant with Dawinski. I sat with her and prayed for those days when we didn't know if her children were alive or dead. I held her baby while my heart broke over the words she told us, of the devastation she had seen. I came back a few weeks later to her Endy, thriving under the care of the women at our toddler house. I sat with him while he told me his dreams for a bicycle and soccer ball. I explained to him that, although a bicycle is difficult to fit in a suitcase, I would bring him a soccer ball next time I came to visit. For years I have loved Jocelyne and now I know and love her boys too. Endy and Dawnski are 2 of the most precious little boys I have even met.

The life Kervens lives in unacceptable and though he is my friend, he is not mine. It hurts. It hurts because I want to pick him up and take him away to a life that is not difficult. I want him to see the things that a 14 year should. I want him to visit zoos and amusement parks. I don't often visit places in pure relaxation anymore, instead I enjoy them, while longingly picturing a face of someone I remember. I catch myself saying out loud, I wish I could show this to Kervens. I wish Endy could see this. What would so and so say if he were here. I want to give them these things but they are not mine to give. I am not here to save them, thankfully that job belongs to someone much more well-equipped. He has broken my heart for His people and called me to serve them, but He is still in control of them. I am so thankful for that. It is my job to love but it is not my job to save. At times it seems the only things I can do are such small things, it is difficult for me to accept that I can not change the whole world. I am blessed though, to know that I can change some things. I can make someone’s world a little better.
I would like to bring a few things into Haiti with me next week. Specifically I would like to bring items for Kervens, some church clothes and perhaps a few other clothing items. And I would love to bring some special gifts for Endy, things that will be just his. I dream of having a sweet new little outfit to give to Dawinski. How beautiful it would be to dress him up and take his picture, to always have that image of the child who represents so much hope.
If any of you would be willing to help me provide these things you may do so through my donation button on the right side of the page, please indicate that the money is to go to “gifts”. I can’t wait to bring, just a little bit more joy, into the lives of these children who need it so much.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I want to get this up as quickly as possible so I don't have time to go into too many details at the moment... I promise to fill you in on the whole story of how I came across this amazing family later, right now I want to ask all of you to PLEASE pray for this precious little girl.


We know who holds Chrissie tonight... She is in His hands and in my heart! I will be praying and I am asking all of you to join me!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I land in Haiti!

I’m going back!  I will feel the heavy air on my skin, I will hug little babies. I will sit in the nurseries among my friends and spend precious moments with them.

I will have everything I have been missing!

In only 34 days…

In 34 days…


This is what I will see

100_0678 View (84)

Monday, April 12, 2010

See What I Saw

I wish I had the words to describe to you the Haiti I loved before the world saw. I wish the photographs that play through my mind would replace the ones that play through yours.

It kills me that the name Haiti will forever bring the memory of pain, devastation and death to the rest of the world. Once upon a time Haiti was so much more. Yes, even before the earthquake, Haiti held tears of the starving and the sweat of a body fighting to survive but she offered a spirit of joy and survival that is rare in the face of such pain. A spirit that is an honor to witness. A way of living that far too few will ever grasp.

I had a plan for this post. I've been working on it for a while but when I sat down it didn't go exactly as planned. I guess I wasn't as ready as I thought I was.I wanted to find some particularly recognizable photos that have been played on the news and to compare them with some of the photos that I myself have taken over the course of my time in Haiti. I started but I didn't get very far.

I got through exactly 7 photos before I couldn't take it anymore. I still can't look at it as anything more than an awful nightmare. Things like this happen in the plots of horror movies written by sick people, not in real life. I still can not believe that it's true. How can I still be in this fog of denial? How can it still hurt so bad in those brief seconds that the fog lifts into reality? How can I understand so deeply and not at all?

I wanted to post photos to show you, as best as I can, Haiti through my eyes. I don't have to parade in front of you the images that you have already seen, I don't need to disrespect, degrade and dishonor the Haitian people to do that. As I looked through the few photos that I did I became so angry my hands shook. How could someone have stood there and shoved a camera into a dump truck full of someones loved ones and took photo after photo of their mangled bodies. How could the news stations have no problems showing those faces as clear as day? Had something like that happened in a developed country there would have been outrage at the disregard for dignity. I guess, when it's "just those poor people over it Haiti" it doesn't matter. People forget that these were husbands, wives, friends and children. It breaks my heart that in order for people to finally care they had to be shocked to that extent.

How I wish that the only Haiti the world knew was this one...

Before January 12th there were babies who looked like this...

And faces like these ones, that captured my heart...

Before January 12th there was a market full of vendors, stories and old men playing dominoes...

Before January 12th there were homes, empty of material goods, but filled with laughter and love... Before January 12th there were churches and courtyards full of songs and praise...

Today, on April 12th, there is a little more pain, and a lot more tears. There are far fewer buildings and many more orphans. There is less and there is more. There is less joy but there is more hope. There are less church buildings but there are more songs of praise!


Just so you know, today marks three months since the earthquake.

I don't really have the emotional energy to visit yet another anniversary and point out what still hasn't changed. I don't really want to waste the time to tell you all again the same story I have been telling. However, I also couldn't let the day go by without taking the time to recognize that it is the 12th.

Three months since that day...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Toy Tester

After the earthquake several of you brought me items for Haiti. Last week they were sent on their way! Real Hope For Haiti, where Anna is, will be blessed with tents, t-shirts and baby supplies donated by the people of West-Central Minnesota! Thank you!

Read all about the deliver of these items and a little boy who helped "test them out" here...

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Traveling Pants

Last week I had the privilege of being allowed to help load a container bound for Haiti. I loved holding the items that people had sent and picturing the joy and relief they would bring. I loved closing my eyes and seeing faces of specific people who I knew would find excitement in a particular item. I loved holding something in my hands and knowing it would soon be in the hands of someone who needs it!

In one box I came across a pair of jeans. As I carefully refolded them to be packed into the pile of women's clothes I noticed something very special about them. They were maternity jeans. For some reason this hit me hard. A woman here in North America once wore those pants as she prepared for the life growing inside her. She felt her baby kick and move and she planned for him. She thought of all the things she wanted to show and teach him. She painted a room and set up a crib. She dreamed of all the things he could do. Soon, those pants will be worn by another woman. A woman in very difference circumstances. A woman who will feel her baby kick and move and who will worry for him. A woman who will watch as the day of her child's birth comes closer, and she continues to survive under a tarp in the mud. There will be no crib, there will be no soft of a cloud blankets. Instead, there will be hunger, pain and fear. No doubt she loves the child within her as much as any mother can, but after living in a world none of us come even come close to imagining, the extent that she allows herself to truly dream are limited. She is too used to the world she knows to truly let herself believe the good she has heard exists. A world where it is uncommon for a child to die, a world where diarrhoea does not take the life of a baby on a regular basis, a world where every bone protruding from their little bodies is not the norm, that world does not exist to her. She has heard of it, but she has never seen it.

Yes, there is a big difference in the women who share these pants and the children they bear. They are different but more so, they are the same. They are women who dream about the future, dreams that are not much different from each other. They dream of a life for their children where they can do whatever they want to do, and be whatever they want to be. They dream of the things they will learn and the things that will bring them joy. They dream of their first smiles and steps. They dream of feeling their chubby little arms wrap around their necks and their little voices professing their love. They dream of them truly living!

For the woman who entered a clean, well lit store and took money out of her pocket and purchased these pants, her hopes for her baby are pretty much a given. The chance of her child starving to death while she sits powerless is unimaginable. The idea of him dying of typhoid, malaria or cholera is so foreign it will never cross her mind. He will go to school, there is no reason he couldn't. He will grow up to be anything he wants to be.

For the woman who will receive these pants the picture is so different. She will stand in a line for hours, surrounded by others who are searching for hope. She will walk away with the few things she is given. A small bag of rice, some oil and a pair of pants. They have made a journey from one world to another. She will wear them and they will stretch as her belly swells. If she is one of the "lucky ones" her baby will be born alive, weighing around 4lbs. Maybe he will survive to see his 5th birthday. Maybe by some miracle he will find a way to attend school. Maybe he will eat every day. Maybe he will grow up.

Today, this is the hope that Haiti has, but it doesn't have to remain this way! Haiti can rise from where she is! It is huge, but it is not impossible. It can be done but it will not be easy. It will not happen if we do nothing but sit in our homes and look at their pictures, read their stories and think about how sad it is. It will happen if we rise up to make it happen! It will happen if we decided it is worth the work. It will happen if we give up the things we "need" to come alongside them. It will happen if we make their pain our passion. It will happen if we do something!

Do you want to do something? Tomorrow in Saskatoon there is a group of people who are packing another container to send to Haiti. You can help. You can have the honor of folding, sorting and sending items that are desperately needed. You can touch something that will save the life of someone in Haiti. You can place something in the back of a semi truck that will bring hope and happiness to a person who needs hope to go on. You can help save and restore Haiti.

If you want to help go to 519 Ave L South (Westower Communications) at 10am tomorrow. You will work hard and that work will directly result in a difference being made in someones life! You can help change the future for Haiti!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

To Catch You Up

It seems I have some visitors today! Thanks to Rich Dillen over at Bad Idea Racing for sending you my way!

I met Rich's wife Kim last year in Haiti. I can honestly say she was one of my favorite people I served with. She told us of her family at home and I couldn't help but love them. I learned a lot from her about adoption of older children and bonding, tactics I have passed along to my own parents as they start on the journey. I also remembering gathering around the computer to look at pictures of her husband who she assured us was a "hottie", turns out he was! Our group of giggling ladies squealed and agreed that more men should wear bike shorts! ;)

One of the first few people to contact me after the earthquake was Kim. I received so many amazing, encouraging messages from her, each one seemed to find me when I needed it the very most. Her words were ones that I read over and over again!

Since January 12th Kim has been one of my biggest supporters! She is always quick to ask me what I have going on and to be excited about my projects. Kim also knows James and when she found out I was trying to help his family she immediately joined in my efforts. She talked Rich into being involved in the project as well and in honor of their anniversary TODAY they have turned his blog over to the efforts for the Dindin family!

For any of you who are visiting from Bad Idea Racing today here is a history on the family.

January 29.2010

February 2.2010

February 16.2010

March 9.2010

Thank you to all of you who have made a donation to the Dindin Family today! Happy Anniversary Rich and Kim!

Paperwork Insanity

Lately my head has been spinning with information. Just when I think I finally understand all of this non-profit lingo something new is added!

This week it is PAPERWORK. I am filing my Articles Of Incorporation to be recognized a non-profit corporation by my state. When this is done I will be able to apply with the federal government. When that is accepted I will be an official 501(c)(3)! I really feel like things are moving along! Espwa Berlancia is becoming more than just a far away dream!

Along with all this paperwork comes filing fees. For some reason I didn't even consider there would be filing fees. Silly, I know! All added up the fees will be around $500.00! Though in the long run not a lot of money right now it seems huge! $500.00 is my entire personal expenses for a month! As with all things in my life these days I am trusting that God will provide for my needs. I know that he provides through many of you and I am so thankful to each and every person who has made this dream a reality. Now I come to you again. If there are any of you out there who feel able to help with the financial needs of getting Espwa Berlancia up and running you can donate by visiting the link on the right, clicking HERE or by sending a check to:

Rhyan Buettner
307 N 18th Ave
Bozeman, MT 59715

Please indicate that the donation is for Espwa Berlancia start up costs.

Whether your support for me has been financial or through words of encouragement and prayer, I could not do it without you! Thank you all!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Haiti 80

I was stirred awake and into a nightmare. The words I heard pierced my soul.

"They just had another one"

In the dark I sat straight up. Frantically I searched the room, trying to remember where I was. In just a few seconds I knew, Miami International Airport Hotel. I was gone and they had just had another earthquake.

January 20th I boarded a plane in Port Au Prince bound for Miami. I was needed to help in the huge task of trying to get the children being adopted by American families out. 81 little lives were at stake. I went because they needed me to. Everything inside me fought it but I knew what my task of the hour was. I expected to return to Haiti the next day. Instead I remained in Miami. I took a shower, my first in 11 days. I watched the water flood down the drain and it made my physically sick. I walked outside my room and faced the array of food, water and "necessities" that were offered to me and I was overwhelmed. All I could think about what lie 800 miles, and a world away. I went through the motions surrounded by people who didn't get it.

And then, the wake up call. I should have been there! I should have been sleeping on the ground alongside the nannies and babies that I loved. I should have reassured them. I should have gathered in prayer and lifted my hands in songs of praise. I should not have left. I should have been helping those babies.

I had no idea how huge what we were doing was. In the next few hours I realized I was helping them more than I ever could have dreamed. I wrote emails and made phone calls that directly resulted in 81 children being allowed to step on a plane and land in a country that welcomed them with open arms and flashing cameras.

On Thursday January 21st I boarded a flight again. I returned to the place where I left my heart. I stepped off the jet next to a caravan of white buses. Staring out at me were familiar faces. The nannies I had come to love sat with their babies on their laps. They looked exhausted but upon exiting the vehicles each forced a smile. They proudly carried their babies one last time. They walked up the steps and onto the jet. Almost none had ever seen an airplane before. Their excitement mingled with their pain. They placed their children in the arms of volunteers and said goodbye. Tears were not shed. Instead they showed, once again, the strength of the Haitian way. For most of those children these were the only mothers they had ever known. For all of these ladies these were the children of their hearts. These were first steps and first words. They were sleepless nights and sweet sticky kisses. In a matter of minutes they let them go.

In my arms was placed Jacob. I clutched him tightly and frantically tried to soak in every second. You see, along with the babies came my luggage. I was not to return to Haiti as planned. I said goodbye too, not knowing when I would ever see my friends again. Thankfully there was no time to focus on what I was leaving behind. The precious cargo on the plane, and what lie ahead needed me to much. I sat with Jacob while Mackensly and Manuel huddled beside me. I passed out cookies and juice as we sat on the runway. I changed diapers while we waited for clearance to take off. I held my breath, knowing that until we were in the air, it was too good to be true. For an hour we sat, anxious and tense. Finally we began to move. Faster and faster until we felt the wheels leave the ground. It was really happening. It was a dream.

The lights were turned down low and most of the babies quickly fell asleep. Those of us volunteers on the plane spent the flight filling out visa and customs forms for each and every child. 81 forms. We finished just as the lights of Miami came into view. The ground came closer and closer until finally we touched down. 81 children were home.

Upon entering the terminal we were taken to the immigration processing area where each child was cleared for their Humanitarian Parole. None of us had any idea what to expect, none of us would have dreamed that the process would take almost 8 hours. Anxiously I watched the clock. Midnight, 1, 2...7am finally the last name was called. The last hurdle was crossed. This was really happening.

We gathered and paraded through the airport. 81 babies and more volunteers than I could count. We were met in a flash of cameras and microphones. Everyone, adults and children alike stared wide eyed at the crowd before us. We were sleep deprived, dirty and overwhelmed, we were ready to be done. We boarded 2 buses that took us to the terminal where the parents were waiting. Everyone was ushered into a room where the children were cleaned and dressed as well as possible while Dixie greeted the waiting parents.

At GLA there is a tradition that when a child leaves all of the nannies and other children gather to send them off. They sing a special goodbye song and everyone gives their well wishes and hugs. This is a ritual that every child participates in and waits eagerly for. Usually the song is personalized with a child's name being entered, on this day there were too many. They sang instead "goodbye my friend, goodbye my friend" There wasn't a dry eye in the room. They sang goodbye, to their friends, their caretakers and the life they had known. They then went on to sing "this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it"

Rejoice we did. Dixie returned and quickly they began calling one child at a time to meet their parents. We watched as one by one the room cleared. The K's were called, I stood up. With me was Kerderns. I carried him out of the room and searched for the familiar faces, I spotted them through the crowd and as I pushed my way through they got closer and closer. Finally we stood face to face and I presented Kerderns Pierre to his new mom and dad.Then I stepped closer as someone snapped a photo, the first of this new chapter. I stood beside my mom and dad as they held my new little brother for the very first time.

Every volunteer of GLA dreams of leaving with a baby. There isn't one who goes with the same spirit they arrived with. Every time I fly away I imagine the weight of a little child in my arms. I prayed that one day I would carry one with me. Never could I have dreamed it would have happened in such an amazing way.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Great news! I finally have my pay-pal back up and running! To donate you can click on the donate button on the right, or on the photo below. Thank you to all of you who make it possible for me to do the work of my heart!

Friday, April 2, 2010

It Is Only Friday

I imagine the despair that must have hung in the air on that good Friday. It must have felt helpless.

They couldn't know what was to come. They couldn't have known that Sunday was coming.

Haiti, your Sunday's coming!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

When The Night Is Dark

Are you ready?

Well, I'm not sure I am.

I don't know that I am ready to tell you what I am about to, but I do know that it is time.

So here it is...

Some days I think I am losing it. I have moments where I am sure I am going crazy, I am sure I am the biggest disaster of a person that the world has ever known.

Sometimes...I am a wreck.

A few days ago I was working in the back office here in Colorado Springs, out of sight of the front door. One of our staff members had left to run and errand, it was windy that day. As she opened the door upon her return the wind whipped violently through the building. It was so strong that it rattled all the doors and windows. Before I even processed what I was doing I was out of my chair. My heart was racing, my eyes darted frantically around for a place to go. It was over by the time I realized it had begun but the damage punched me so hard I couldn't breath. In just seconds I was catapulted back 10 weeks. I was crying. My body started shaking. For those brief seconds my world rocked again. For those brief seconds I realized once again that I was powerless regarding the earth beneath my feet.

Even worse yet, it wasn't the first time that had happened. Once I was in a grocery store. I stood in an aisle and saw the shelves crashing down on top of me. As the people around me watched I dropped my basket and ran for the nearest exit. They stared in curiosity while I fell apart.

Sometimes when it happens I am in a crowd and it is awful, usually though, it comes at night. In the days directly following the earthquake the hours of darkness were the worst. Lying in bed you felt every single tremor. I would drift off to sleep only to be jerked awake by the next aftershock. My stomach tied in knots as I finally gave up trying to sleep and just laid there praying for morning. Amazingly after a few days I began sleeping again, partially because there is only so much a body can do before you have no other choice. Mostly, because people at home were praying specifically for my peace. Bible verses poured into my email and at night when the fear and darkness overwhelmed I would read them over and over again. I slept. So, imagine my shock when over a month later the sleepless nights returned. I was finally feeling like I might be getting myself back together and then they started again. The "earthquakes" Most of the time it is just as I am falling asleep. Right as my eyes start to close my bed begins to shake. Instantly, I am awake. My body is filled with adrenaline and I know there is no hope of me going to sleep now. I fill the dark of night working, watching infomercials and praying. I don't sleep. The drifting off "quakes" are awful The middle of the night ones are worse. If I do end up falling asleep I can only pray I will not have one of those. More often than not I do. I wake up to my entire room swaying side to side. I can see the items on the shelf next to my bed crash to the floor and I can hear voices screaming and babies crying. Even when I have been awake for several seconds I can still feel it. When those come I know my night is over. There is no lying down again after that.

I understand that what I am going through it normal. I understand that what happened in Haiti was traumatic but I can't help but feel guilty and embarrassed about it. How can I be so upset when I am safe? How can I be "allowed" to be so traumatized when there are others who have it so much worse. I was inside the gates of a compound that sustained no damage. I lost, not one family member or friend. I saw the same CNN images you did, I watched it unfold on the TV with the rest of the world. I got on a plane because I had somewhere to go.

I left.

I left my friends when they were scared. I left them in chaos and hopelessness. I left and now I am in a place that is safe. I have more than most Haitians could ever dream of. My body doesn't understand. I fight it with all that I can but I can not fight what I do not understand. I do not understand why I can't enter a room without taking note of the nearest exit. I don't understand why I can't just pray and have peace. I don't understand, I hate it and I feel guilty. What right do I have to be traumatized by this? The things I felt and saw are nothing compared to what the Haitians have, why can't I just deal?

I hope you can see why this was difficult to share. I don't want to be a "damaged" person. I want my faith to be enough to conquer my fears. I want to be strong and I don't know why I'm not. I love the person I have become since January 12th and at the same time I hate her. I hate waiting for morning in the dark of night.