Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thank You

Over the last week I have been organizing and sorting all of the amazing donations that I have received for the house in Haiti.

Andrea Kilker and some of her wonderful friends from Britton, SD handmade all of the linens we need! Sheets, curtains, blankets… they blessed us with everything we could want! They even purchased all of the curtain rods for the house. DSC03481DSC03482DSC03483DSC03484DSC03486

Thank you ladies!

Along with all of the linens, we have built up quite the collection of other donations.


It’s so amazing to see this house filled up right before my eyes!

Thank you, everyone who has helped us gather all of these much needed supplies.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Haiti In Your House

** I am reposting this in an attempt to keep in in the front of all of our minds. 9 more days to enter!

As a kick off for my newest project I thought I would do something really fun.

If you would like to catch up and learn more about Espwa Berlancia you can read what I’ve written about the project or visit our website.

I started working on this giveaway to raise the money we needed to pay on the Espwa Berlancia house in Leogane. But because God has seen fit, and many people have generously donated, the rent on that house has been paid for the entire year! Also, because of His love and beautiful plans, this house already has 3 children waiting to come and live with us. We don’t know much of their history, or if they will even actually end up in our care but for now, He has put them in my heart and used them to fuel an urgency to get this house open. He brings all things to be and so I trust to do what He has commanded. To care for these little ones.

In order to do that I need to have funding in place for the next few months. I don’t quite have the security of regular monthly donations to keep us running. Instead, I must work to raise the funding for the next several months, while I work to get those programs into place.

One of the ways I thought I would do this is to offer you a chance to help and in return, have an opportunity to get a little bit of Haiti in your own home.

Over the course of my time in this beautiful Caribbean nation I have collected some gorgeous souvenirs. Now, I would like to use them to give back.

I am going to do a giveaway, but in an extra special way. Haitian style. Each of these items are handmade in Haiti. They are gorgeous! I cannot believe how incredibly talented the Haitian people are.

I have 3 absolutely gorgeous paintings that I purchase during the last few years. They are colorful and vibrant and just ooze “Haitian Happiness” (the good kind, not the parasite kind)


*Village (24 x 36)



*Marketplace (30"x40”)



*Ladies (19 x 24 )

See, I told you they were gorgeous!

All 3 of these paintings have been framed and are ready to hang on the perfect wall in your house.


I will also be giving away a a necklace and bracelet set made by a woman at The Apparent Project. I had the honor of meeting the wonderful and talented artists who create these beautiful pieces on my last trip. I can not say enough amazing things about this mission. Honestly, I pray every day that God would use Espwa Berlancia in ways that are half as amazing as how He has used Corrigan and Shelly and their project.



I love this gorgeous, unique, hand painted globe. It is made of solid wood and uses a common marble to make it spin. I love the globes they make in Haiti and where they label the different cities in the USA. If you win this you’ll see just what I mean!DSC03243


This is a beautiful bit of art that is carved out of a piece of bamboo. I love the detail of the profile of the woman in this carving. She looks so graceful. This carving is ready to hang on any wall in your home and is bound to invite conversation about the country that it represents.



Stone statues are a very popular form of art in Haiti. Much of the stone that is used to build these statues comes right from Leogane.

These 2 statues are both meant to display the beauty of a Haitian mother. They show them with their babies, cradling them in love. I think they are so far beyond amazing. I love to just sit and stare at them!




*each of these statues stands almost 12” tall and will be given away separately.


Here’s the plan… I want to give these beautiful gifts to some of you and in order to do so I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to raise money for our house.

And so, for each $10.00 donation you make to Espwa Berlancia I will enter you to win one of these amazing prizes.

Make sure you leave a comment if you donate to be entered to win. You will receive one entry for every $10.00 donated. You will also receive an extra entry if you:

  • Post to Facebook about this giveaway.
  • Visit our website and sign our guestbook.
  • Follow us on Twitter @espwaberlancia.
  • Tweet about this giveaway.
  • Blog about this on your own site.
  • Become a follower of this blog, if you were already a follower let me know in a comment and I’ll give you an extra entry.
  • Grab our button! If you add our button to your blog leave us a comment saying that you are using it with a link to your blog.
  • I will also be adding ONE entry for each of you who have already donated to this cause.

Please, please be sure to leave me a comment and let me know what you have done to be entered into the giveaway. I would HATE to miss anything and leave someone out!

I would love to see these bit of art go to homes where they will displayed in love. I imagine them on your mantle, getting the attention of guests and family members, giving us even more of an opportunity to share the work and mission of Espwa Berlancia!

Let’s get this party started!

*No monetary donation is necessary to enter, although they are much appreciated. Giveaway ends April 30th 2011

Augusta, GA

Do I have any readers in the Augusta, GA area? Maybe someone with connections there?? Please email me! rhyanbuettner (at) espwaberlancia (dot) org

Thanks so much!


With everything going on the last few days I have been horribly neglectful in keeping you all updated about our little Sota.


That’s right, you all voted and even though I rebelled and called her “Charlie” for about 2 days, she’s a Sota.

Unfortunately, she’s not quite as laid back as she was on day 1. In fact, she’s a bit of a spit-fire. She LOVES socks… no matter how many toys I provide I am constantly chasing her down and rescuing whatever sock she has managed to steal! She keeps me on my toes!


When we get to Haiti, Sota will be an outside dog! Here in Minnesota that’s a little more difficult. I can’t leave her outside all night with the temperatures that we have been having.

This “outside dog” is getting pampered wickedly.

Each and every one of you who know me IRL* can gasp now… Sota sleeps in my bed! For real. I am so not an animal person. I like them ok, but that’s it. I don’t want their hair on my clothes, I don’t want them staring at me while I eat and I especially HATE when they lick… it’s just so gross! For some reason, when it’s a tiny little furball thing it’s not so bad. :) Maybe I’m just getting to be a softie.

*In Real Life


Thankfully, Sota is super smart! She has learned to sit, shake and wait for permission to eat at meal time, all in the last week. You would think that would mean she could figure out not to pee on the carpet, we’re still working on that one. ;)

I’ve been reading up on German Shepherds and I am SO glad that I chose this breed! They are super smart, very protective and great with kids… all things that are necessary for her to survive and thrive in our house. Hopefully, just her size will be enough to intimidate any potential troublemakers, her dad is over 6 feet tall on 2 legs! So far she has gained almost 2lbs. We’re going to have  a big girl!


I have also learned that German Shepherds show the most potential of any dog breed at detecting and alerting to earthquakes before the fact. There isn’t any proven way to train a dog for that, and it’s a very far stretch to think she might actually become our “earthquake alarm” but hey, a girl can dream. I’ll tell you one thing, should she impress me with that talent she can sleep in my bed no matter how big and stinky she gets! ;)

As difficult as this little puppy is right now, demanding and always getting into something, I know that she will be well worth the work. The security she will provide for us will be priceless, hopefully the memories the kids have of her will be too.

All I can say is that, in spite of my best efforts, I’m finding that I actually kinda like this dog…

Thursday, April 21, 2011


The days will come when you don't have the strength
When all you hear is you're not worth anything
Wondering if you ever could be loved
And if they truly saw your heart they'd see too much

Elange and Olson March 2011
You're beautiful
You're beautiful
You are made for so much more than all of this
Elange March 2011 (4)
You're beautiful
You're beautiful
You are treasured, You are sacred, You are HIS
School Uniforms Feb 2011 (13)
You're beautiful
I'm praying that you have the heart to fight
Cause you are more than what is hurting you tonight
Elange and Rose Guerlande March 2011
For all the lies you've held inside so long
They are nothing in the shadow of the cross
You're beautiful
You're beautiful
Elange March 2011
You are made for so much more than all of this
You're beautiful
You're beautiful
Elange and Lovelie March 2011
You are treasured, You are sacred, You are HIS.
You're beautiful
Elange March 2011 (2)
This is Elange. Most of you met her here. My heart has been so heavy for Elange, this week the weight overloaded. I found out something that breaks my heart. This week IBESR, the Haitian Social Services, informed the orphanage that if Elange is not matched with a family within the next 4 weeks, they will not allow her to be adopted. The reason is that she must be under 16 years old at the time she is issued her visa. We are already pushing it. No one really knows the average adoption timeline for Haiti post-earthquake but given the rate that our files are moving through, we estimate around 9 months. This does not give Elange time to wait.
The reality of this situation is that if someone does not step forward and chose this precious girl she will be lost. Her dreams of becoming a doctor will be impossible. If she does not get adopted she will have to leave the orphanage. Her life will become like hundreds of thousands of other Haitian women. She is worth so much more than that!
Elange’s chances are running out and the very worst part of it all is that she knows. She knows that no one has chosen her. She has watched as one by one parents have come for their children, her friends, while she watches and waits. She begs me, over and over again not to leave her there forever. She begs me to find her someone. The last time I left she reminded me on my way out the door, to show her picture to all of the people who might want a bigger girl. She understands, she knows people want babies… SHE deserves to be someone’s “baby”.
Right now I am doing everything in my power to keep the promise that I made to Elange, to tell everyone I can, to show her picture, to make sure she has a chance to be known, loved.
Elange needs a family to step forward with either a current Haitian approved dossier OR current USCIS approval for international adoption. Because of the time limits she needs someone that is paperwork ready.
For someone with current USCIS approval (not specific to Haiti) an application can be made to rush your status approval for another country. This will need to be done right away.
The current criteria for adoption from Haiti are…-
  • Couples must be married for at least 10 years.
  • At least one parent must be 35 years or older.
  • Couples may have no more than 2 biological children.
  • Single men are not allowed to adopt, single women are acceptable and must be at least 35 years old.
  • FDPD also requires that adoptive parents be of Christian faith.
The fee for Elange’s adoption is $10,000. It is big, it is scary. God is bigger. Financial concerns are the #1 thing that hold people back from adoption, please don’t let that be the case for this girl. We are working on setting up a fund for the costs associated with this adoption. There will be some sort of scholarship in place to help mitigate the cost of this adoption. We don’t know yet what that will be, but that is what faith is, “being sure of what we hope of and certain of what we do not see”.
I believe with all of my heart that God has plans for Elange’s life. I believe that He longs to rescue her. His plans are not dependent on our abilities, finances do not intimidate Him. The only thing that can prevent God from doing a big work in this life is fear. He only requires you to step out in faith, His promises cover the rest.
Please, if you would like information about adopting Elange contact me. Let’s give this girl a chance!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Refuse

Today I heard this song for the very first time. I kind of, sort of 100% am obsessively in love with it!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Quick Update

#1 – Puppy still doesn’t have a name. I narrowed it down to our 4 favorites and put a poll in the sidebar. Take a second to vote and whichever name is the most popular when the poll closes (at midnight tonight) will be our winner! I don’t want to tell you all what to do but Charlie was my suggestion. Winking smile

#2 – Last week we received several incredibly generous donations. We have now reached our goal of $10,000 for our rent! Once I stopped freaking out and then laughing at myself for my incredible lack of faith over the last few weeks, I could do nothing but cry. This. Is. Really. Happening. Whoa!

I’m trying to figure out a way to change the chip in to show this… anyone know if that is possible?

#3 – Our fundraising work is far from over. We now have a house but we will need the funding to run it every month. Tomorrow come back here to see one of the ways we are planning to do that.

#4 – We have kids! No info until we actually welcome them into our house but you can start praying for these 3 little ones TODAY.

#5 – Well, really #1… God is SO Good!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Baby Girl

It’s official, we have our very first baby girl!

She is adorable.

9 weeks told today.

She weighs 12lbs.

With big, beautiful black eyes.

She is super playful.

And thankfully, very laid back.

She will be a wonderful addition to our house. She’s just missing one thing, a name!


She will be moving to Haiti with me in May and fill the role of guard dog/playful companion for some kids who I’m sure, will love on her lots.


Honestly people, I need some help. What do you think we should call this sweet little thing?

Monday, April 11, 2011


Last night I was overwhelmed. In a scary, but really blessed way.

Memories and pictures were exploding through my mind. Eyes of children that I will never be able to help, because I am just me and I can only do what I can do, and it’s never going to be enough.

Espwa Berlancia is a dream that is coming true right before my eyes and I am so incredibly happy. But, it comes along with this unexpected guilt of who I am leaving out. I have such a specific purpose and some people don’t fit into the criteria of the work that God has made clear to me. That hurts… it hurts really bad because I want to save the world but in order to not kill myself doing it, I have to have boundaries.

Right now I am struggling with the need that is all around me. I have formed beautiful relationships during my time in Leogane and I am so thankful for them, I would be lost without the companionship of my dear friends there. And yet, the needs that plague the Haitian people affect everyone, my friends are not immune and saying no becomes a lot harder when you really, truly care for the ones in need. I don’t mean care like I care about “the people” around me. I mean care like, crying on your shoulder, sharing Christmas dinner, friend like a sister, care.  When those friends need something, there is no way to not share their burden and there is no way to turn your back. Sometimes they are matters of urgency and life and death, sometimes they are as simple as a few hours and some energy put into a specific project. All of the time the are impossible to ignore. I have a responsibility to those who support me to tell them what I am doing in my work. I have a responsibility to be clear and honest with what my projects will be and how our funds will be spent. I have a responsibility to work as long and as hard as it takes to get those things done. I understand that but it makes me sick to know that sometimes the things that I really want to do don’t fit into my purpose anymore.

I wonder how long I can possibly struggle with this idea. It’s been 3 years now and it’s not going away. If anything it’s getting more urgent. The more I know the more I care. The more hands I hold the more my heart is torn.

I am trying to trust and trying to follow. I am trying to listen when God tells me what to do and what not to do. I am trying, but I am fighting because honestly, like I said, I just want to do it all.



It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”


Rhyan with kids March 2011 (10)_picnik

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tears and Faith

Tonight I have both.

Tears and Faith. Sadness and hope. Love and pain. I am am feeling it all.

Soon I will share all of the things that are weighing on my heart. All of the pain and responsibility that I am glad to bear… that I have begged to be given.

Soon, but not now.

Now, I will just cry because I am really, really tired. But I have no choice to carry on. Because I love each and every one of their precious hearts.

I will carry on because when I close my eyes I see their faces and when it is silent I hear their pleading. “please bring a mama and papa for me” and “ have you found someone for me yet”

How can I say no, and how can I lie?

How can I move on with my new life and walk away? I can’t. It’s just as simple as that. But it’s also really complicated.

And so… I hope those of you who read this aren’t as easily overwhelmed as I am. Because honestly, at this moment I am beyond what I ever asked to carry. Beyond my strength, but for some reason I still press on.

I do it because He provides my strength. Because I know He promises to put them into families. And He brings them to me, and He takes them away. I am but a vessel, that hasn’t quite learned to turn when the Captain commands, but I’m trying.

Someday, maybe I’ll get there. Until then I will do my best. For those who need me for now, and those I will hold for as long as God will grant. I will do the most that my human body and soul can.

I promise and strive for that.

I realize this is a great big mess of emotion, something that I should probably edit and fix before I publish, just to make sure it’s comfortable for people to read. But I’m not going to. Mostly because I crave someone, anyone to come alongside with me. You might not know the entire story but doesn’t your heart break for the orphans that invade mine?

Please, don’t leave me alone to advocate for them. Please, if it’s all we do tonight, pray for these precious little bodies. lives, minds and souls.

My heart is shattered into 147 million pieces….

Monday, April 4, 2011

His Name Is Pierre

There is a man who lives near me in Leogane.


I see him almost every morning, pulling his hand cart.

Most of the time it is empty. He once told me with a grin that he can make as much as $20 a day carrying things for people, if enough people need things carried. Every morning Pierre pulls his empty cart down the dirt path outside of my gate and every afternoon he returns, barefoot. Not many people needed my help today, he tells me, while he smiles and shakes his head.

There is this ache that pierces my soul every time I see his flat, calloused feet hobbling down the road.

It really sucks when kids are barefoot and hungry. It sucks different when an adult is. Not worse, just different. To know that he’s been hungry for more than 40 years, it’s really almost incomprehensible. Like I said, different. The way my heart jumps when I see a barefoot little boy is different that the pang that comes when I see Pierre. Neither one is easy, or right or fair.

Tomorrow is Toms One Day Without Shoes. “One Day Without Shoes is the day we take off our shoes to raise awareness of the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child's life.”

I love that tomorrow a whole lot of people will be barefoot and a whole lot of people will be made aware of how different another’s life can be. Raising awareness for children who don’t have shoes is amazing. Tomorrow we will be reminded of the children in Central America, Africa and the Caribbean who live ever day with the discomfort and danger of not having a pair of shoes for their feet.

We will think about them and I hope that maybe you will think about and pray for Pierre too. The man who smiles every day, while he works to make a living, walking hot dusty roads, barefoot.

Pierre Feet

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Things I Love

Last night was a rant, which is sometimes needed, but sometimes regretted.

I would never for a second want you to think that there is more hate in my life than love.

There are so many precious things that I love.

I love the feeling of a tiny life snuggled on my chest.

I love waking up in the middle of the night, because they need me.

I love that God recognizes my human weakness and gives me the breaks that I need.

I love not owning a mirror. And that it doesn't matter.

I love falling asleep to the sounds of blaring music outside my gate, reminding me that I am surrounded by people, that I’m not alone.

I love knowing that, although not in any of the ways that I imagined, my life is becoming everything that I have ever dreamed of.

I love griot, and lambi and pickliz.

I love that I have time every day to pray for Haiti, the people I adore and the babies I will hold.

I love driving down the road, with the windows rolled down and the smells that envelopes me.

I love that I am making a difference, no matter how small or insignificant it may be.

I love the dust that I rinse off my feet every night.

I love that live, every single day, the life I was created by my precious Lord to fulfill.

Honestly, as discouraged as I may become I realize that I am beyond blessed to live a life of love and hope. A life that I love with all of my heart and soul.

Thank you Jesus.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Things I Hate

There are a lot of things I hate.

I hate trying to write blog posts with I am in the US. Mostly because there is nothing that happens here that comes close to filling me with the urgency that I see and experience every day in Haiti.

I hate empty, quite hours. Time where I am free to do work that desperately needs to be done, but instead just cry over how quiet this house is.

I hate asking people for money.

I hate leaving Haiti.

I hate saying goodbye to the people I love, all the time.

I hate babies dying, for no good reason.

I hate discouragement that leads me to be frustrated with the people I am called to love.

I hate not having electricity when I want it.

I hate throwing “fits” over luxuries I crave like power and running water and my favorite TV shows, that are filled with materialistic crap anyway.

I hate watching what I say, and editing my posts before I publish them to make sure that I’m not offending anyone.

I hate the doubt that invades my thoughts every day, that we will actually raise this money and that this dream will become anything more.

I hate being away, from here and from there.

I hate when people use their energy to argue over theology and doctrine of our loving God, instead of the urgency of loving each other as He sees us.

I hate when I am fed up with answering the same questions over and over again, and respond with scripted answers, instead of love, joy and excitement.

I hate who I am when I am not there, and I hate who I want to be, when I am away from here.

I hate this world, which just reminds me it’s because I was made for so much more…