Monday, August 25, 2014
She is the woman in the beat up car, singing along to the Frozen soundtrack for the hundredth time just to see those little faces smile.
She is the woman walking up a mountain with a bucket of water perched on her head.
She is the woman who fights to be at work, in the daycare pick-up line and at the 3rd grade spring concert all at the exact same time.
She is the woman who lies awake at night wondering how on earth she is going to pay for the braces on their teeth or the food in their bellies.
She is the woman who cries into her tin cup of coffee, in the early morning light, because it’s just so hard, and she is so tired.
She is the woman who would do absolutely anything for her child.
She is the woman I am called to live among, to learn from.
She is your sister.
She is you.
She is me.
She is the modern day widow, the single mother.
Every Thursday afternoon I stand in a room full of women who’s names I know and who’s stories I am just beginning to discover. I measure their swelling bellies and ask them to tell me what they have had to eat in the last 24 hours. I pray with them, I praise with them and my heart aches for them. I send them on their way with a kiss on each sweaty cheek and I hope against all hope that the next week would be kind to them. I study and organize their charts and I pray for hemoglobin levels to rise and blood pressures to fall, knowing that the vitamins I give them can only do so much to fight the hand that poverty has dealt.
The book of James commands that we care for orphans and widows and the church had taken these words and run to all the corners of the world to build orphanages for tiny defenseless children. There are a few who hit the “orphan jackpot” they are placed in one of the good ones, with gentle and loving caregivers, where they are fed, they go to school and they stay alive…sometimes. But the majority land in the hands of those who’s only goal is to exploit and steal and destroy and because they are in an instuition, without a mother to meet their needs, their tiny brains lose the ability to form connections with other human beings and they are beaten and they are raped… sometimes.
What if we got it wrong all along? What if, instead of pouring the millions of dollars a year into giving mothers a place to drop off their babies, we used those resources to make sure that mothers were enabled to care for their children, and the inevitable orphans of their own extended families and hometowns? What if we really, truly realized that the only difference between her and ourselves, is the country of our passports? What if we gave her the same options we would fight tooth and nail to give if she were your sister or daughter or best friend? What if, instead of funding orphanages on every corner, we poured support into programs that create jobs and provide healthcare to keep women alive in developing countries. What if people worked together to support a select few children’s homes that are held to the highest of standards of care? What if we valued their lives as much as we value those of “our own”? What if caring for the “widow” prevented the “orphan”?
Maybe she made a mistake, the most visible and easy to condemn kind.
Maybe she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Maybe she fought and saved for years to have the courage and cash to leave the man who broke her heart and her bones.
Maybe she chose to become a mother, in whatever way was best for her and she works hard and she takes care of her babies and she is still so very much alone.
Maybe, she is more than her circumstances. Maybe her past doesn’t define her.
Maybe in her home, just like you in yours, she is simply “Mommy”.
Organizations working to preserve families in Haiti:
Footprints Of The Son
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Education in Haiti means everything. It means the difference between surviving and thriving, it means the difference between shame or holding your head high, often times it means life or death. These children will have the opportunity to rise above the poverty they were born into, because they will have attended school. This donation will continue to impact these children's lives for the better for years to come!
Mike is 8 years old and is entering 2nd grade. He loves to study math and French. Mike is the only child in his immediate family and lives with his mother and many extended family members in Leogane, Haiti.
MIKE HAS BEEN FULLY SPONSORED!
Williams is 8 years old and will be entering the 3rd grade. Williams’s favorite subject is Math and his mother says that all of his teacher report that he can solve math problems meant for children several grades older than him. Williams lives with his mother and aunt in Kenscoff, Haiti.
*this photo of Williams is a repeat from last year, my computer deleted this years current photo. Sponsors will be provided with a current photo after Williams returns to pick up his sponsorship money and school supplies. WILLIAMS HAS BEEN FULLY SPONSORED!
Dora is 3 years old and will be entering her first year of preschool (this is the average age for children entering school in Haiti) Dora is slightly delayed and I am hoping that school will help her to become more verbal and develop socially. Dora lives in a foster home.
KARRIS HAS BEEN FULLY SPONSORED!
Faibring is 12 years old and entering 4th grade. She lives with her mother, 2 sisters, niece and nephew Adley. Faibring likes to study English and history and when she grows up she wants to be a teacher or work in an orphanage taking care of babies.
Annabel is almost 3 years old and is entering her second year of preschool. Annabel’s favorite subjects in school are dance and art. When Annabel grows up she says she wants to work on a computer. Annabel lives with me, and her baby brother in Thomassin, Haiti.
ANNABEL HAS BEEN FULLY SPONSORED!
Adly is 4 years old and is entering his 3rd year of preschool. Adly is fun little boy who loves to play outside and is a Brazilian football fanatic! Adly’s favorite subjects in school are art and math and he loves learning his shapes and colors. When Adly grows up he wants to be a bus driver. Adly lives with his mother, sister, 2 aunts and grandmother.
Wilsmy is 9 years old and is entering 3rd grade. He is an excellent student and takes his studies very seriously. Wilsmy’s favorite subject in school is music. When he grows up he wants to be a pastor. Wilsmy lives with his mother, father and little sister, Rebecca in Thomassin, Haiti.
*this photo of Wildmy is a repeat from last year, my computer deleted this years current photo. Sponsors will be provided with a current photo after Wilsmy returns to pick up his sponsorship money and school supplies.
Rebecca Nozil is Wilsmy’s little sister. She is 6 years old and is entering 1st grade this year. Rebecca loves to sing and dance and her favorite subject in school is French. Rebecca said when she grows up she wants to be a nurse like her mother. Rebecca’s mother is a kind and caring woman who volunteers her time twice a week to help in our clinics, as a thank you for her hard work I would like to send her children to school through Espwa Berlancia.
REBECCA HAS BEEN FULLY SPONSORED!
Rebecca is 8 years old and will be entering school for the very first time this year. Rebecca is a very smart little girl who will benefit greatly from the structure of school and the social skill she will learn. I’m sure that she will quickly catch up with other children her age. Rebecca’s main caregiver is her elderly grandmother, they live with several other extended family members.
REBECCA HAS BEEN PARTIALLY SPONSORED - SHE NEEDS $100 TO COMPLETE HER SPONSORSHIP !
Sponsorship for each of these children is $375 (just over a dollar a day!) and covers their school tuition, uniforms, books, school supplies, backpacks and a brand new pair of shoes. None of these children would be able to attend school this year without the help of friends like you, thank you for considering investment in these lives! You can choose either full or half sponsorship at $375 or $187.50 please be sure to note the name of the child you wish to sponsor!
Sunday, August 10, 2014
When God first began calling me to Belle Anse I very firmly said “NO WAY” until I decided, a few months later, to change it up a little. Now, I know God doesn’t work this way but I decided to “make a deal”. I told him I would go, if He gave me 24 hour electricity and a car. I knew that both of those things were so far fetched that I would be safe for a good long while.
6 weeks later I posted a request on Facebook for 6 batteries that would work together with the city power that is sometimes provided, to give our house (almost) 24 hour electricity. Within just a few days this wish had been granted and I had 6 brand new batteries running in my house.
Then in early June I received an email that made me gasp. Without having made any public plea or even telling more than a handful of people about my wish for a car someone had made a HUGE donation to be put towards the purchase of a vehicle.
God was working, I was amazed. A few weeks ago I had that donation in my hand in Haiti and the search for the perfect vehicle began. I found a great car that is very popular here in Haiti. It didn’t have everything on my wishlist but it would be great for what I needed. I took a test drive and thought that it would probably be a good purchase but I decided to wait and look around a little longer before committing to anything.
Saturday morning, while taking a moto down the mountain for an appointment, I saw a car parked on the side of the road with a for sale sign. I almost didn’t stop because it was my “dream car” and I knew there was no way I would be able to afford it but at the last second I decided to at least ask a few details.
The owner was outside and I spoke to him for a few minuets. He told me a few things about the car including that it has never been driven or licensed in Haiti (A good thing, knowing it hasn’t been beat up by Haitian roads yet!) He showed me the inside, it was clean and comfortable. Then he showed me my very favorite part, the 3rd row of seats, meaning I can safely fit all 4 kids, in carseats with room for whatever/whoever else we may need to carry.
We talked price and surprisingly, the first price he gave wasn’t quite as high as I thought it would be. Back and forth for a few minuets and I finally got him to what he promised was his lowest possible price. That price ended up being just $2,500 more than I already had in my pocket without having asked anyone! I know that if God intends for this to be our car He will make it happen and so I am humbly brining this request before you. If $2,500 is donated to my car fund I will buy this amazing car, if it’s not I have another great car as a backup that just isn’t quite as perfect.
A car for our family means so many things. It means not having to carry groceries for our entire household on the back of a motorcycle. It means going to church again. It means going ANYWHERE as a family (at this point I cannot possibly take all 4 babies on a moto at once) It means so much to our family and it means SO much to my program. This car means I will never have to miss a middle of the night birth because I can’t get any of my regular drivers to answer their phones. It means pre-moving trips to Belle Anse are half the price and a hundred million times easier than they are now. It means that I can drive mamas and new babies home rather then send them on a taptap (hot, crowed and bumpy public transportation) It means that when we are living in a village that is in the middle of nowhere, we have a way to get to the nearest hospital (3 hours away) in the case of an emergency and not waste precious moments trying to figure out transportation.
I have spent 6 years in Haiti and owing a car has never felt necessary, it’s never felt possible. And now, the time has come. I am excited to take this next step, I am excited to grow my organization in this way and I am excited to have this blessing for our family, as long as God doesn’t see that one remaining seatbelt and get any ideas about filling it up!! Ha!
For those of you that want to take a peek, this is the 2002 Mitsubishi Montero that I am hoping to be able to purchase!
If anyone feels led do donate you can visit my paypal account and put “car fund” in the memo.
Thanks always, sweet ones!
Saturday, August 2, 2014
I was not impressed. I was not willing, and I was NOT going.
For the past 2 years I have lived in a place that is comfortable. The weather is mild, my daughter goes to a wonderful school, she attends a ballet class. There is a huge grocery store, with everything I could ever imagine wanting to buy just a few miles down the road. I meet my friends for drinks and dinner at beautiful restaurants. Yes, I live in a country that is far away from the home of my youth, a country full of poverty but I found a little corner where I am comfortable and secure.
Then God told me to give it all up.
I will tell you now, my reaction was not graceful, it was not loving, it was not obedient.
The first time I heard God calling me to leave this place and go to Belle Anse I replied with an out loud and stubborn hell no!
I am not going there. I won’t do it.
That’s right, I swore at God, which basically means I am like, the shittiest Christian ever.
Then I realized, that great big grocery store with everything to chose from, had taken over my heart.
The good schools, the fun restaurants, the “blessings” and comforts, were all fighting for my soul, for my focus. Every single one of them was becoming a security net that allowed me to forget that I do not have this figured out, I do not get to be the boss.
I let my material comforts become my god instead of turning to God to be my only true comfort in life.
During the month of July I fasted from some things that I really, really love in order to open up my heart up to what I knew God was calling me to do. My gosh, what a month it was! If you could imagine anything that could toss a challenge into my life, July threw it at me. I faced the death of a child that I loved dearly, betrayal by people who I trusted and the stress of finances that never seem to stretch far enough. I walk out of July having added 2 more little girls to our family for the next several months or more, making me a single mother of 4 children under the age of 3.
Through it all, amidst all the distractions, God spoke so very clearly to me that it was impossible to ignore. Over and over again I was brought to the story of Jonah. The symbolism was obvious to me, Jonah was a guy who God had told to go to a city, who refused and ran away.
I was Jonah.
I was being called to a place I didn’t want to go and just like Jonah, I had chosen to refuse. God did not send a fish to get my attention but He sure did some other big things! As I studied the book in every version that I could find God began to show me signs everywhere. I met a little boy named Jonah one day and another the next. I walked into a room to see a huge painting depicting the story hung prominently on the wall and finally, the kicker of them all… I faced a knock on my gate one morning from a man who I had never seen before, who said he had received a word from the Lord for me. That word? You guessed it, the story of Jonah.
I wrote a few days ago about a dream that I had, a dream where I found myself standing on a beach. That beach was the very beach I stood on 5 months ago when I visited Belle Anse for the first time. God’s calling was clear and the time had come for me to deny myself and follow Him.
Am I scared? Out of my mind! I am scare of my kids getting sick, I am scared of living in a place that I don’t know or understand. I am scared of how hard I know it is going to be, I am scared of uncomfortable. Yes, I am scared but I am going to do it anyway. I have been blessed the most in the scared moments of my life, I have learned the best lessons in the scared and so I will do it scared.
In early 2015 our family will be moving to Belle Anse, where we will learn really hard, really beautiful lessons. We will rely on Him more than we ever have before. We will grow in ways that I can only imagine and we will come out on the other side far better for it. We will give the small things that we can and we will receive so much more than we deserve. Belle Anse doesn’t need our family but God has called our family there for His purpose, the things that He will do in and through us are beyond what I can imagine.
My daughter will not learn to plié in a class filled with pink tutus but she will dance her heart out in the dirt with the children who will become her best friends, the ones who will teach her to be humble and serve with abandon. My son will not attend a classy French preschool but he will learn lessons far beyond what books can hold, while he walks life in a place that is filled with opportunities to become a strong, resilient, brave, loving man. I will not have a beautiful house filled with beautiful thing but I will have simplicity and I will find joy in the challenges because that is when Jesus reveals himself the best.
I am Jonah, but I am done running away. I am turning my face towards His plans and turning my heart towards His grace. Heaven knows I’ll need it now more than ever.