A Glimpse of Mi Vida...

It started with a missions trip to Camden, where my life and perspective were changed and where this blog began. Life has been a roller coaster filled with its ups and downs and I'm excited for the adventure and discovering what God has in store, even though I really dislike roller coasters... I am a Lady in Waiting...

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hotel California of Haiti

There we stood in this prison as we talked with a man in jail. He was suicidal and missing a purpose in life. The team I was travelling with began sharing the word with him.

As I tried to listen, I was interrupted by an officer talking to us in the doorway. He was an officer of the prison located right next door to the voodoo temple.

He asked if I had heard of the Hotel California. I smiled and said yes, I know the song and that I am from California. He began to describe the voo doo temple as their Hotel California. It is just a place they visit. That we had nothing to be scared of, that they pray to a saint or a spirit.

However, you could feel a heaviness in his words. He is so lost and so blinded to the truth of Christ.

You would never know that the building below is a voo doo temple and inside they worship a porcelain doll.

A piece of the story about voo doo in Haiti is that in Anse-a-foleur there was a cross on the hillside and it was struck by lightning. They believed that it was them being punished and that a porcelain doll fell from the sky unbroken. They believe in the doll and it's ability to heal. It is Ste. Anne. Pronounce Saint Anne... or if you put it together... Satan. The don't see it as related to the devil, but rather as a spirit or something to do or believe it. They are so lost and so blind.

Below is an excerpt from my journal entry right after we exited the temple:

"We just got done touring the voo doo temple and it was so overwhelming- I felt such a heavy weight on my heart, it felt as if I was having a panic attack. I prayed the whole walk through the temple and was overcome with emotions. They (the Haitians)  are so lost there and confused- they were prepping animas for sacrifice. Two chickens and a goat that they cleansed. They worship a doll. A baby doll that they believe fell from the sky.

When we believe in Jesus who came as a baby but Chris is real to us and He bled out for our sins.

The rooms we walked through were so heavy- one open area and hallway was crowded with people and they were preparing animals. Apparently the 25th and 26th of every month they sacrifice animals.

Anse-a-foleur is the voo doo capital of the world. As we walked up the stairs to where they were worshiping the doll I felt so much sadness and had tears in my eyes.

They are so lost- so fearful- they pray out of fear for healing. I prayed for protection that they would know truth and would be pulled from the darkness. People had tears of fear in their eyes.

My prayers and their strength in the darkness made me weep and feel like I was having a panic attack."

There is definitely a cloud of darkness that covers the town and parts of Haiti.

As I prayed through the voo doo temple, I thought of TiStevenson. His skin is marked because he was taken to a voo doo doctor and burned because he wasn't growing and they tried to burn the curse out of him. TiStevenson is five years old and has dwarfism and doesn't have a thyroid. He is not cursed but is a beautiful boy who I got to love on.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

What He Reveals

This week I set out to really seek God's counsel and discernment in deciding whether or not to go back to Haiti for at least two months. 

I am in awe of the way that God spoke. 
Deep within my heart there has been a screaming, crying, ecstatic yes! Knowing this possibility... this opportunity to return to Haiti to do photography was an answer to a quiet prayer whispered to God deep within my soul and in my quiet time with Him. When I came back from Haiti, I knew two weeks was not enough and that my heart and soul desired to really invest in my time there and it needed to be for longer. But how could that possibly work? If I were to get a job, then I would have to wait at least another year before going back and how could I pull off going for a month... to take a month off work. God knew my heart and desire and I just had to trust that I would be back to Haiti at some point in my life...

Wow, did He take my life circumstance and use it beyond anything I could have every imagined or expected. As soon as I was told about the opportunity, I began to pray. I met with two of my directors in global outreach and told them. 

The response as I shared my blog post, has been so supportive and overwhelming.
But I wanted to make sure that this was what God wanted... that this was not me running away from life or my circumstances but that this was God leading and I was following. 

My devotional times have been so spot on with what I have been needing to hear and for confirmation for where God is leading.

Tuesday, July 16- The Day I Was Given the Offer
"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust also in Him, and He will do this: He will make your righteousness go out as the light, and your justice as the noon day sun." -Psalm 37:5-6

Commit my way... say what? He's got this?! Just what I needed to hear.

Wednesday, July 17
"Above all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: with all prayer and requests, praying at all times in the Spirit and being watchful to this end in all perseverance and requests for all the holy ones." -Ephesians 6:16-19 

I preached on these verses in June at my young adult retreat. God is desiring me to take up a shield of faith and this has all knew meaning than any other time I've read it. And that I need to prepare for battle... I knew spiritual attack would come and will tempt me and attempt to destroy my heart and excitement for this.
I am needing to put my requests before God... which is what I am doing as I seek discernment. 

Going into the day before the conversation (Tuesday), I went to meet with my accountability and one thing I have been realizing is that although God has worked great things since leaving my job and going to Haiti. Emotionally leaving was really difficult and hard because I had invested a year and a half there and poured so much into people and ministry and then leaving there was a lack of closure. But that morning before the conversation with the mission I read:

My Princess,

Don't get discouraged, My beloved; pain is a part of life. But I promise you that I will turn every tear you've cried into joy, and I will use your deep pain for a divine purpose.

Don't try to hide your hurts from Me. I know everything about you. You are Mine, My beloved! I'm the only one who can handle your heart and restore you to health and wholeness again. I, too, have felt great pain, rejection, and anger. But we can go through every trial together. Hand in hand I will lead you back to My place of peace and joy after the storm. The sun will shine on you again, and your heart will be healed.

I promise you, My Princess, that when you go through deep waters of great trouble, I will be with you.When you go through rivers of difficulty you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression you will not be burned.


Your King and your Healer

    ~DEUTERONOMY 31:6~

After the convo I read: 
"The Lord bless you, and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine on you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his face toward you, and give you peace." -Numbers 6:24-25

Then looking back in my devotional from that morning, I prayed:
Dear Lord, I want to keep my eyes on You as I dance through the highs and lows of my life. Direct my steps today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

His truth frees me from feeling unable and inadequate to try and pursue God. His truth washes over me as I tentatively whisper, "I want to be a woman who says 'yes' to God."

Lastly for this day in this opportunity presenting itself I knew that spiritual attack will come and I should not be discouraged by that but count it as great honor. My devotionals from that morning lead to the conversation and everything that I have been feeling after... and preparing me.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:10–12)

Jesus used the word "blessed" twice as He spoke about persecution for His sake to emphasize the generous blessing given by God to the persecuted. Jesus was effectively saying, "Double blessed are the persecuted." The word "blessed" also could be translated "happy." It's as though Jesus were saying, "Happy, happy are the persecuted."

It isn't so happy when the persecution is taking place. But you can wear it as a badge of honor that someone would attack you because you so faithfully represent Jesus Christ.
Jesus used the word "blessed" twice as He spoke about persecution for His sake to emphasize the generous blessing given by God to the persecuted. Jesus was effectively saying, "Double blessed are the persecuted." 

The word "blessed" also could be translated "happy." It's as though Jesus were saying, "Happy, happy are the persecuted."
It isn't so happy when the persecution is taking place. But you can wear it as a badge of honor that someone would attack you because you so faithfully represent Jesus Christ.

Friday, July 19
"Pray like this: 'Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. Let your Kingdom come. Let your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us today our daily bread." -Matt 6:9-22

Never more have the words, let your will be done ring true within my heart and soul. Or the fact that He will provide my daily bread. I have continued to see God provide over and over again and it was speaking that He will provide for me to get to Haiti... financially with my projects and with everything that I need.

I stand amazed that God would choose a young woman living in the unemployment what's next and weave her experiences, along with others' lives, into His present and future plans to prove His wondrous ways: 
"Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare" (Psalm 40:5).

If God did this with me, He can do it for you.

Heavenly Father, thank You for planting dreams in our hearts to serve You, even as little children. Open our eyes to Your work all around us, and how You weave people and circumstances together. You are a dream giver and a dream fulfiller. We worship You and give You all the glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

He has planned this... and His deeds are so good. I am excited to declare the things He is doing in my life.

Sheri Rose Shepherd's devotional revealed this:

Know the Truth         
My Princess,
Let Me take you back to the beginning of our relationship. Do you remember when you asked Me to be your Lord and King? I do, because I wrote your name in My Book of Life at that very moment, and you entered into a love relationship with Me. All the angels rejoiced in heaven! Our relationship can never be destroyed by anything or anyone.

Once you were lost but now you are found, and My Spirit lives in you-you are Mine! I don't want you to let life's craziness and confusion distract you from knowing Me personally. So remember the truth-stand on it, read it, pray it, obey it, and walk in the wonderful truth that you are My princess, My chosen one!


Your King and your Truth

"Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, "You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
~John 8:31-32~

"Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations."

I have to live on God's promises... not on explanations. I will worship God in this process... not because of uncertainty but because of God's sovereignty and glory. 

Saturday, July 20
"Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve kings. He won't serve obscure men." -Proverbs 22:29

God has gifted me as a skilled worker... and I need to work not for man but for God.

I also started a new devotional which was perfect.
This is the excerpt: 
Do not be afraid to be different from other people. The path I have called you to travel is exquisitely right for you. The more closely you follow My leading, the more fully I can develop your gifts. To follow Me wholeheartedly, you must relinquish your desire to please other people. However, your closeness to Me will bless others by enabling you to shine brightly in the dark world. 

Today, Sunday July 21

In this morning devotionals: 
"I want you to lean on, trust, and be confident in Me. When you lean on Me for support, I delight in your trusting confidence."

"Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding" -Proverbs 3:5

So there it is... I'm kind of scared saying it... even if it is true in my heart...

I'm going back to Haiti.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

You Called Me Out

It is way past my bedtime and I find myself wide awake trying to process the past 24 hours... or even the past month.

One month ago I left for Haiti. I spent two weeks there serving and loving on the most amazing children and people that I have ever met. I was devastated to leave but so thankful for the opportunity. One of the best experiences was that I did a few photography projects for the mission.
I loved it. I got to meet each of the 46 children of the Miriam Center face to face... to love on them, capture their smile and sweet souls and I can't wait for the pictures to be shared with the world so that they can continue to be supported but also prayed for daily.

I found myself back at home... feeling sick from travels and wondering what was next. I definitely knew that God pulled heavily on my heart. Before leaving for Haiti, I knew that I have been called to service... to truly use my talents and gifts for God's kingdom. I left my job and went to Haiti to begin that process. I came home and have  been spending a majority of my time volunteering at my home church CCV. I have been praying for the right doors to be opened and closed as I search for a job. I have been hopeful as I have applied for several jobs at churches or universities and have just been waiting. To occupy my time, I helped raise around $6,000 for a benefit concert and dinner for missions through my church.

Before leaving, you may have seen my blog post about the process of going to Haiti, if you haven't please check it out!

The song Oceans by Hillsong has really been captivating and even more so now than ever. I am being called to step out of the boat and have the faith to walk on water... to walk where there are no borders holding me in or back.

Have you ever asked God for something privately and had Him answer it? You had told no one but the Lord and even thought... what a pipe dream.

Going back to Haiti in June was like that. As I stood at the mission I was in awe of being there and it felt so unreal for the first  few days.I will share further stories in future blogs. But let's say the reunion with Gilbert was all worth it.

Well, the past 24 hours have been insane. I have seen God call me out.

Have you ever been called out by a friend? Hopefully it is out of love and accountability when they do that. When we pray for God to lead us... are we really and honestly willing to go where He would lead? Have you ever thought of that?

God has called me out... again. Out of the boat and out on the waters.

Read the lyrics:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I have prayed these... sang these lyrics, cried to these and been in awe of each time I listen to this song the strength and peace that it gives me and even new understanding.

My co-leader from Haiti mentioned several months ago that the mission was looking for photography interns and I should consider it. I contacted them and said that I could do photography but I already had a trip planned to Haiti and would help while I was there... so I did.

I came home and have begun processing the photos. They (the mission) have loved what I have given so far and have been so appreciative so far. They wanted to talk to me about the internship again, I told them I wasn't interested because I just got back and I needed to be finding employment soon.

We touched base this week and I let them talk about the opportunity. I was blown away by what I heard..

They want me to help with photography again but a longer term.. I only would need to raise money for ministry supplies and any other additional expenses. I was in shock and tears on the phone. I'm being asked to come back... I would be the media director's right hand. I just prayed.

I have been asked to go back to Haiti!

I wouldn't be an intern but I would be working for the mission... doing photography. I would basically be the assistant media director as I work on some new programs the mission will be launching and I would be capturing them and sharing them with social media. I would also get to hang out with the Gilbert all the time and pour love into him and TiStevenson. I don't know that I could ask for anything better.
 TiStevenson and I.

So here is where I am at:
Currently I am unemployed and looking for work. So this opportunity comes at the perfect time. If I accept, I will be going from beginning of September until just before Thanksgiving in November. I would like to raise $2000, for ministry projects and expenses. One of my goals is to get shoes for all the kids. When we take them to the park, most of the kids don't have shoes and get bit by red ants as they wonder around the playground and grass.
I could look for jobs while in Haiti and look to have something lined up for when I return home.
My goal would be to decide to the next two weeks. I will be praying for God to open the door for a job if I am suppose to stay but also that if I go that the funds will be taken care of. This is gaining me experience and ability to work and serve in ministry whole heatedly. I am single and not committed to anything here at home.

In the past 24 hours, I have been asked to go back and live in Haiti for 2.5 months doing something I love with the children by my side. I have had someone offer to take care of my car and help with my car payments and another person offer to help fund my trip. I' m in awe.

So please be praying for wisdom and discernment- especially as I need to come to an answer. Pray for my health if I go and that my health being back will jump back to normal. Please pray for my parent's hearts to be softened and understanding of whatever my decision. Please pray for doors to be closed and opened clearly.

I will be disengaging from Facebook and social media of the next few days from Friday until at least Sunday if not longer as I seek discernment.

Lastly I ask for you to pray for peace over my heart which is really heavy and for protection against spiritual attack because as I seek to save the Lord, I know it will come.

I would love your feedback and encouragement via my blog and facebook so I can read through it all when I return to social media in the next few days.

Thank you for your love support and prayers.

If you'd like to donate and believe in what I will be doing, then you can click on the button below.

Rescue, Restore, Redeem- Stories of Haiti

I love the vision of Northwest Haiti Christian Mission (NWHCM).

It wasn't until my time in Haiti this summer that I got to see first hand the vision and be apart of how it plays a role everyday in Haiti. Last summer when I went to Haiti, it was more about experiencing things and watching over the team and there was a lack of explanation of the purpose in each of the programs that the mission runs. This year- it wasn't only explained but lived out and seen.

Their vision is to Rescue, Restore, and Redeem the village Saint Louis du Nord, Haiti... but also all of Haiti to better impact the world.

A Story of Rescue- Moses, Wiskens, and Caleb

Moses was found my the river in Haiti... fitting for what he has been named. He was malnurished and his hands and feet were cut. Madam Rober who runs the girl's oprhanage at the mission has adopted him. He lives with her and is loved on daily by Madam, as well as anyone who he encounters at the mission.

The stories of Wiskens and Caleb are similar. Wiskens was left near a garbage can around the mission malnourished and Caleb was left at the gates of the mission. He has been nourished and loved on. Now he is also walking through the help of therapy at the mission. 

Caleb and I:

Here is a video of Caleb walking:

There are stories of rescue every week in Haiti... are going into our lives daily with open eyes? Do you have open eyes to rescue... willing hands to restore... and open arms to redeem?

A Story of Restoration- DenDen

I would consider DenDen the deputy of the Miriam Center and quite frankly the mission as well. With the tag team of Gilbert they are the sheriff and deputy and run the show, let's be honest.

In 2010, DenDen came to the mission and he couldn't walk. Six months after being at the mission through much love and physical therapy, he was able to walk with a walker. Today DenDen walks all around the mission. DenDen is a 17 year old miracle of God. Miracles do exist and you see it in DenDen's spirit and energy. He is always happy and ready to say hi to you. He was poured into physically and emotionally and because of that restoration he is thriving. 

Are you willing to share the love, grace, and relationship of Christ with those you encounter? People have shared love and poured into DenDen, who will you pour into and restore through relationship?

This is DenDen:

DenDen is on the left. When asked to take a photo, he does that pose... every time. I asked him who taught him that... his response: me. As in himself. This photo is from the day that I had the wonderful opportunity to work with the mission as a photographer and meet each of the 46 children and capture a picture of their beautiful smiles and souls that will soon be shared with the world. 

Jesus can redeem EVERY single life. We are called to pour into a society that is rejected and we can do this be demonstrating the love and mercy of Christ. We are called to accept others and give them value. We have to give them the power to be redeemed through Christ.

Stories of Redemption- What does it look like?

Do you have an open heart? What does it look like or mean to redeem? Do you see a situation and say, I'm not okay with this?

Rosevenor is a little girl in Haiti that lives in the village near the mission. She is albino. She is made fun of and teased. The mission heard of her as they wondered through the village and our white Americans look like her. The mission has begun building relationship with her and her family. It's not okay for her to be an outcast because she is a child of God.

Redemption also does not mean that you simply give a hand out or give a child a dollar because you feel bad or sad. There is no long term solution if you just hand someone a dollar. We have to partner with them and give them the value and dignity of what is means to earn a dollar and the value of it and it is not asking for a handout. 

One thing the mission continually does is build relationship. One primarily is the bracelet bandits. These are little boys who wait outside the gates of the mission. As you walk through the streets of the village they come along side you and want to hold your hand or be your best friend... they want you to buy a bracelet. However, the mission now has a program in which they can give involved in bible study and programs and incentive is they are given bracelets and business... this also eases the pressure of the Americans to buy bracelets or feel forced to or knowing that the relationships built with the boys are not based on greed or neediness. 

You see the impact this makes when this summer one of the boys we built a relationship with greeted us with such love and he did not ever hassle me. Instead he asked about people from last year's trip and then he built a relationship with one of the mom's on our team... our team Haiti mama. He made her bracelets for me to give to her... about 20 of them out of love and respect... he didn't charge me a thing or ask for anything. He wanted her to know he loved and missed her and valued her... my favorite was the bracelet that said... "I love you my mom!" If that doesn't melt your heart... I don't know what does...

We CAN make an impact... we have the ability to rescue, restore, and redeem.