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...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Picture Verses A Story

October 30, 2013

Having done missions work for more years than I ever thought or dreamed of, one pet peeve of mine is the language we share once we’re home, the pictures we share, and the stories or lack thereof that are told upon our return.

I think processing a mission trip takes a lot of time, it is in no way an overnight discovery of this is everything God taught me and this is what’s next. I think an annoyance for me is the language we use about missions. “It changed my life!” But your lifestyle or language does not reflect that you have been changed for more than the week or month you’ve been home. Have you really been changed? Myself included it is so easy to go back to normal life in the states and to very quickly go back to our lifestyles of spending money, wasting our time, involving ourselves in bad company, or forgetting the things that God taught to us and revealed to us.
Do I rely on God as much in the states as I do in the mission field? The things I once found appreciation in, do I still value them? I know for me, when I return home after 10 weeks in Haiti… I value running water and working power so much more. Do I remember to value those these or conserve them in memory of my friends who have little? I know that I will watch the money I spend, but how long does that last for? How often do we convene with God once home? My hope is that as I have spent almost every morning learning more and more about God, in bible study and prayer with our staff that it has created not a habit, but a deeper relationship with God and wanting to spend every morning learning from Him. As much time as I want to spend catching up with friends once home, I hope and pray I spend just as much time catching up with God and processing with Him.

I hope that we challenge ourselves to live differently, not just because we’ve been on a mission trip, but because God calls us to live differently, to be uncomfortable. I am sure He did not mean only when you’re in the mission field.

Another annoyance of mine is the pictures that we share about our experiences. As a photographer in the mission field, it is my job to take photos. Photos are supposed to tell a story. There is the saying that they are worth a thousand words; however I now believe that to be false. Do we know the stories of those in the pictures that we take?

This is going to sound mean and harsh, but I honestly sit back and wait for people who return from the mission field after a short-term and I almost take bets with myself of who will post the first photo or change their profile of all the great things they did in the field. Who will be first to post that photo of them holding a precious and cute African, Haitian, Peruvian, or any baby for that matter?

Do we know their stories though? I recall this summer a team of people who came down to work in Haiti. I was already working with some children as I had built relationships with them over previous visits, what was the first thing they did? They greeted a cute child, picked them up and took a selfie. Have you done it? I am sure I have. I feel bad for posting such photos now unless I know and can share the story. Can you tell their story? Or do we take photos of children whose name we don’t know, just to boast of “look at the work I’m doing in this country”. Look at me and this cute baby!?

 I want to really challenge everyone, especially those hoping to continue doing short-term missionary work, to truly invest in the ministry we do. To learn stories, take names, and share because we want the world to know their story. Don’t share to boast of how cute I look or how cute is this nameless child with chubby cheeks in the slum or village I passed by. Invest… share the stories of Rescue, Restore, and Redeem…  the work God is doing.
This is my precious Joshua from the Miriam Center. He has CP. He moves so quickly around the MC and nothing limits him as he is so joyful. He is ecstatic because one of the guys from Kimmy's House left his hat for Joshua to remember him buy. Every morning Joshua greets me with the warmest smile and wave, I have never seen him unhappy, he always a smile and the joy of the Lord. He is a constant blessing and reminder of oh sweet the Lord is. 

Some Days

Some Days
October 26, 2013

Just got back from yet another walk in Haiti and it was refreshing to have a friend to walk with. She asked me, if I would be interested in going on a walk. I’ve gone a few short walks to watch the sunrise in the morning, but never just to walk around.

I’m so glad that I went. We went down to the end of the street, walked down the next and through the center plaza and then through the brothel. We stopped and played with some of the kids there and just talked watching the waves crash in. We then trekked along the trash filled beach and walked back up to a smaller road and then to the main road, up a hill and across to the mission.

I’m glad for the friendships I have here in Haiti. My friend and I just talked about life in Haiti and we discussed that some days are more difficult than others. As I am enclosing on my end date here in Haiti, I can’t help but think about my future and what the future holds for me and for my relationship with Haiti.
I know that I will forever be bonded and in love with this country, but I do not know how often I will come back to Haiti after this point. I think about what the future holds in terms of job and a life at home. I desire so badly to have a job, pay off all my student loans and then go and live and be a servant of God in the world as my occupation. I am so open to leading where God wants me, I am applying for jobs in California, Colorado, Florida, and even Kentucky. I wish I knew what the next step looks like, but I don’t and that’s okay.

Because time and time again I have seen God provide. God is refining me.

What feels like a fire now if for my refinement, so that I would continue to become a precious metal, a shiny gold for the Lord. I am in the process of continuing to reflect His Glory.

“These [trials] have come that you faith- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may be proved genuine and may result in praise.” -1 Peter 1:7

If my faith was never tested and God never turned up the heat, how then could I experience His deliverance?
I know that I would rather reflect Jesus’ light than settle on a dull finish.

The good thing, rather GREAT thing about the fire is that I don’t walk  through it alone. HE is by my side, holding my hand. Through the hottest of flames, He is with me. Sometimes the outside layers need to be burned away so that way the gold can begin to be formed. I do praise God for what and who I am becoming, I am thankful for God being my refiner.

While this fire and the uncertainty may be difficult, I know that it will all work together for His Glory and His God. Without a doubt my time in Haiti is causing me to grow, to be stretched, and to become more of the person that God desires for me to be. I don’t know if I could ask for anything better. 

All I can do as I walk through the flames and hold onto His hand tighter and trust at the end, I’ll be a beautifully refined piece of Gold, a hopeful glowing reflection of God.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


October 26, 2013

We just got back from another walk in the village. We went to exchange some money and one of the girls had to pick up a few items at the One Stop and then some bread and juice at the bread store.
There are some days that walking through town is really amazing and a nice outing, and then there are other times that you get frustrated with the society and expectations, even more the entitlement in Haiti. One of the greatest challenges we face in Haiti in the cross-cultural divide has to do with money, and along with that expectations, dependency, and entitlement mentality.

A man begged us for money outside the store. He followed us in and kept begging for bread or money. He kept grabbing my arm. Another lady poked us as she asked for money repeatedly. As we walked back, the other girl missionaries and I began talking about entitlement.

There is so much entitlement here in Haiti- sometimes I think even more so than what I’ve seen in the United States. Maybe the entitlement is more hidden amongst all of our earthly possessions in the United States as we possibly all feel entitled. I think the entitlement comes in us as the traveler also as we want to give our things out. Our handouts defeat the systems that the missionaries are trying to put in place when we overstep them thinking that we know best because we saw one version of the country in a ten-day trip.

There is so much temptation when you visit a country to want to jump in and fix all of the problems, but sometimes we neglect to ask the right questions. The first time you go on a mission trip, especially to Haiti, your heart aches to help or even save these people that you encounter. You buy bracelets, you hand out dollars or shoes and maybe you even build relationship with people so that you can give them your things at the end of the trip. You can be helping them so much because there is a great need of those items or for that extra dollar for a family. Don’t get me wrong there is legitimate need and the opportunities in Haiti are massive. But you can be hurting the people in doing this and the sad thing is we don’t even realize it.

I’m often asked for things because of my skin color in Haiti. Sometimes it makes me really sad because I would love to pour and invest in relationship with people I come into contact with, not just give them things because they ask. Sometimes giving things out, not knowing a person’s story or circumstance belittles the systems organizations have in place. At least for 35 years, this has been happening as long as the mission has been around. Teams come and they go and they leave their things behind, but it sometimes creates a cycle. The white people have things and so we can just ask for them. There is no trust, true relationship or even accountability built.

The biggest unintended consequence is building an entitlement mentality among the people of Haiti. The more we individually jump into a situation and solve third-world problems with first-world money and expertise, third-world citizens will begin to believe their problems could only be solved by first-world people. As a result, entitlement sets in, and nothing is done by Haitians unless it is paid and accomplished by American missionaries.

In all our efforts with our Haitian staff and with those we serve in our communities, we are evaluating the consequence of our investments to safeguard our efforts from the entitlement mindset. We encourage Haitians to take ownership of the ministry and communities God has given them. Sometimes the presence of American missionaries equals riches and luxury. Understanding these realties, we want to alleviate any unnecessary difficulties for our indigenous people and leaders and, at the same, empower them to lead their communities and churches to change their communities with integrity and passion.

I see this all the time in my everyday life here in Haiti- here are some good examples and some bad examples of entitlement:
-I don’t think the Haitian people realize the cost of being a missionary, that there is an actual cost to be here in Haiti. We raise money to provide for our lives here in Haiti but also to provide ministry needs. The truth of the matter is most of us missionaries are not ric
h and do not live in luxury, we budget and use the money we have as wisely as possible. We are rich in our love for Jesus and that’s about it. We are very blessed by generous donors. But there are so many needs in Haiti and so the money can quickly go to those who truly need it. We had a fire earlier this fall and it caused a lot of damage. We didn’t have money for the repairs in a budget anywhere. So we all chipped in our personal money, fundraised and got extra money to repaint and fix the damages. We poured hours into fixing the orphanage for a week. The little girls were pleased and thankful. What happen to the older girls? They felt entitled and stole a can of paint and attempted to paint some of their room. It looked awful. When the fire happen, what did they do? They made fun of the little girl’s whose closed burned, even though the fire happen because one of the older girls. Another boy painted his name across the back of the house because he felt entitled to.

-They ask for things and Americans readily give them things. We had one woman who sent a package of beans and rice for a family here. They paid the baggage fees for another person to bring it and then berated us with emails about getting the family the package. When we opened it and discovered that it was beans and rice, we laughed. Sending money through a missionary to purchase the items in the marketplace here would allow us to help the local economy. Instead of money wasted on baggage fees it could have been used for ministries in need here.

-A previous team member promised items to a bracelet boy without checking with the team bringing the items or the missionaries. When the mission decided they would not give out the gifts, what happen? The boy became upset and aggressive because the American has promised him. It put the team and missionaries not only in an uncomfortable position but it also could jeopardize their safety. Another boy was upset with the bracelets system we have in place and began waving a stick in an intern’s face because we were taking away the opportunity for him the monopolize (more on that below). We’ve had people attempt to send them iPods and phones and wire money. There is no accountability in doing those these because often times the kids lie about their story. We had a boy within our orphanage that had a Facebook created in his name and was controlled by someone in town, he began requesting money from friends of the missionaries who sponsor him. It wasn’t the boy in our system, it was someone else. 
There are numerous accounts that are run by not who they say they are, that is why we always want giving to go through our programs. We have plenty of children who are in need within our programs. Not all boys are trying to work the system, but there are lot who are because that’s what they have been taught about how to survive. This one boy in particular continues to abuse relationships with Americans, just recently he cheated two boys out of money that Americans sent via a wire transfer. Instead of checking with our systems or missionaries, they just willing sent over hundreds of dollars and now these two boys can't go to school. 

-We desire to equip, not give them entitlement:
-“Be my friend? Buy bracelet from me?” is the question that we would often get asked in the streets. The kids desire to build friendships for the mere fact that you will purchase something from them. As Americans come each summer, the front gates would be crowded with children screaming at you to be their friend. The summer ends, where do all those kids go? Most disappear back to their village or home, never to step in front of the mission until the next summer or the next American team comes in. Instead, we have begun to eliminate these types of relationships. We hold a bible study with our “bracelet boys” and while we are studying, we give out lists of names from the Americans staying with us.  We divide the lists up, so that certain boys are capitalizing on the business. We allow them to equally be making the same amount. 
Last summer, there was a boy who would friend all the Americans on FB and would build “relationships” with multiple people then he would get them to give him the names because their friends. Instead of making the bracelets, he then made younger children make them and gave them a small percentage of the money. He monopolized on the children and made them pay him a majority of any money made.

-We have an amazing brothel ministry here at the mission in Haiti. We could easily pay for these women to get out of the brothel, purchase them new homes and provide for their every need. But what would that teach? Instead we have a ministry with them, we build relationships with them. They come to know God, not because of what we do but because of how Jesus works through us. We taught them to make earrings, necklaces, and bracelets and we sell them in our cantina and stateside. We stand alongside them, not giving them a handout but teaching them skills to survive. There is bible study and a message given each time we meet to make jewelry. The message is given by a woman leader within the community. We help them establish bank accounts with the money they make from the jewelry, teach them about savings and we teach them about tithing.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Love Does: Humbleness

Love Does: Humbleness

The Morning Sunrise
I recently finished reading Bob Goff’s book, Love Does. I highly recommend it, if you haven’t heard of it.
As I was preparing for leading our teams in devotional for Monday morning- I decided to share and excerpt from the book.

At the beginning of each chapter- Bob gives a lesson that is laid out within the text. One that really struck me is as follows:
“I used to think the words spoken about us describe who we are, but now I know they shape of who we are.”

I think that in Haiti we easily love on the alien, orphan and the widow. We truly feel like the hands and feet of Christ as we are pouring out love onto strangers and children. We can pour affirmations into these people who are seen a condemned or rejected, we are given the opportunities every day to offer grace, love and mercy to those we encounter.

I know personally my love abounds to deeper levels in Haiti. I prefer my life in Haiti during the short term because I’m away from the distractions and sins of my life. But how do I model that same outpouring of love in my own life, back home?

I often think that we fail to see our lives as mission field. We only see places like Haiti as a mission field. The truth is where we are is where we are living out God’s purpose. If that is in Haiti, here and now for a week then that’s where it is. But it is also in our lifestyles, in our homes, and especially in our workplaces- even more I think it is in our own lives. Do we even speak love and truth to ourselves?

I know it is easy to think that I am not enough. Those words can instantly fill our heads: I’m not… pretty, smart, educated, skinny, fast… enough. I’ve heard that positive affirmations are great to do on yourself by looking in the mirror day after day and encourage yourself with the words that uplift you.
I think of the movie The Help: “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.”

Before I moved a few months ago the mirror in my bathroom read encouraging words and phrases: "Jennifer, you are beautiful. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are loved and special. You are the daughter of the King, His Princess.” Something to that extent is what I had written on the mirror above my sink. I looked at it every morning, starting each day feeling encouraged and loved.

Our mission field is wherever we are, loving each other and even ourselves.
If we look at God’s Word- He speaks the affirmation to us in the same way. His Word speaks something meaningful and significant into our lives- it allows us to be filled and to change the world regardless of our shortcomings.

God’s name for us is His Beloved.

1 John 3: 1-2- “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God”.

He hopes that we’ll start to see ourselves as His Beloved rather than all the reasons we think that we aren’t something.

I challenged the group to speak truth and love to each other by not only their words, but even more so by their actions.

My life verse is: “Let us love not in word or speech, but in truth and action” -1 John 3:18.

Hanging on the Beach with my Gilbie
Little did I know that I would be humbled by what I said, as I learned throughout the day how to love through my actions and to allow love to do what is does. Love allows us to love and serve in ways that we would not expect. Our love for God allows us to pour out limitless love unto others- pouring out more love than we ever thought that we could give.

Example One: I went to the beach with one of the teams. Each person was to be paired with a kid so that I could focus on taking photos with the children of the Miriam Center. The kids had not been to the beach in at least three years so it was a joyful time to capture. Somehow I got paired with Gilbert- which is fine by me.

Love Does Crazy Things: It allows you to carry Gilbert, a backpack and an expense camera down a hill. It allows you to follow Gilbert around because he wants his photo taken, as you carefully trek in the ocean water with your now broken flip flops and a small cut on your toe- navigating on slippery and painful rocks. It allows you to help push a kid your height up the side of the hill with strength you didn’t know you had, barefoot.
DenDen and Gilbert LOVED the beach.

Example Two: I went down to the Gran Moun to help paint nails of some of the elderly. Love allows you to paint not only their nails but their toenails. Feet gross me out, especially Haitian elderly feet that have not been cleaned or manicures in a very long time. As we left the gran moun, Presius showed me his toe nail and it had to be at least an inch and a half long.  

Love Does Crazy Things: It doesn’t allow me to ignore a need. My intention was to go give him nail clippers. Instead I sat there one the ground covered in ants clipping his not just one toe nail, but all of them. Love allows you to do things you never expected or desired to do.
I have been in awe that after sharing the devotional that God allowed me to love His people in ways I didn’t plan for. That God gives me peace as I trust in Him and serve. I am continually astonished at my capacity for love and service.

As I was thinking of those thoughts and praying over them and just thankful for the ways that God humbled me, He gave me a final example for my day.

Example Three: A sick a dehydrated roommate. My roommate went to bed not feeling well. Midnight I was awakened by her not feeling well. I wanted to just go back to bed, but something within me knew she needed help. At first she refused it, but I knew I couldn’t allow that. We woke up and journeyed with Caitlin and Miss Maureen down to the infirmary. I knew she was dehydrated and needed an IV.

Love Does Crazy Things: It allows you to get less than four hours of sleep caring for your friend as you are awakened almost every hour with her pains and groans and checking the IV bag. It allows you to stand outside of the bathroom stall several times early in the morning holding her IV bag in the air. It allows you to watch over her as you are having gut-wrenching stomach pains and diarrhea. It allows you to serve and still love on children even though you are tired. Love allows you to finish the day on little energy and sleep but with the best feeling you’ve ever felt in your heart.

Love also allows for you to get the best night of sleep you’ve ever had in Haiti after the two days you had serving and being humbled as God continues to show His sovereignty.

Love Does… Love Allows you to do things you never thought you could do.  

Tough Kids on the Block

My Bible Study Girls
Within my first week in Haiti at the beginning of September, Caitlin has asked us if we would be interested in doing discipleship groups with some of the orphan girls. I was a bit hesitant because I don’t know any of the girls, but she reassured me I’d be partnered with at least one English speakers.
I got Tonise and Dashena. The more stories I heard of them, the more terrified I became to do bible study with them.

Tonise has a sister who lives here at the mission- she has basically been adopted by missionaries who live at the mission. Her sister was brought to the mission when she was two years old because she was really sick and eventually ended up living with the missionaries. Tonise’s mom and dad passed away three years ago and she came to the mission then. She has a really tough exterior and has the reputation of not listen and respecting what anyone has to say to her.  She struggles with social cues. I was paired with her in hopes of being a new voice in her life.

Talk about slight pressure.

Dashena understands English although she won’t speak it to you. Often times if you ask her a question in English, she’ll just answer it in Creole.

Finally after three weeks of stalling, avoiding meeting and wanting to cancel I decided to hold the bible study. We sat down together on Friday afternoon. It went longer than expected and better than I thought. Who knew I was so terrified, but trusted that God would calm my nerves and give me peace with them.
I invited the girls over to our common area. I asked Mika to join us as well. Mika is one of our tough kids who his probably one of the meanest to all the other kids. She’ll push the kids sometimes or just say really mean and nasty things. Mika’s story is also pretty sad; she has a little sister with AIDS that her mom cares for but her mom decided she didn’t want to keep Mika or her sister Lickna. The saddest part is that they see their mom each and every day come to work at the mission. I can’t imagine the rejection they feel that each time they see her, they know… she didn’t want me.

I started off the study asking the girls questions about the girls in Creole. I had written out a few questions in English and translated them to Creole. The girls love the movie High School Musical, love to drink Coke were a few of the answers I got back. I told them that I wanted us to study in Phillippians starting next week. That today would be short as it was our first intro week but next week we’d jump into chapter one and discussing. They lingered, wanting more time so I asked if we wanted to just read the first chapter together. 

They agreed. I read Phillippians 1 in English and then they read it from their Creole bible.

I was shocked at how much Mika read or wanted to read and then Dashena finished up the chapter.
I told them to keep reading it over and over and then to write down any questions that they had and we can talk about them but that we would study through it together the following week.

I couldn’t help but buy them all ice cold Cokes and give them granola bars as we finished up hanging out.
I am now looking forward to this week’s study, rather that avoiding it.

I love the ways that God continues to work through my heart when I just jump right into ministry. I am learning a lot about myself especially in my hesitations, but even more so in the ways that God always provides for me. When I learn to let go, I am always amazed at the outcome. He always brings peace. God is so sovereign.  

Left to Right: Mika, Dashena, Tonise

Friday, October 11, 2013

Those White Girls

October 11, 2013

Yesterday while walking through the market the question that people kept asking in Creole was, “Why are those white girls walking with the prostitutes?”

Earlier that morning Caitlin asked if I wanted to come with her to the brothel after lunch. I reluctantly said yes. I was slightly hoping that my stomach ache would get worse and I wouldn’t feel up to going, especially with this little heat and humidity wave we’ve been experiencing. The fall does not bring a breeze on most days unless there is a downpour coming. My stomach ache did get worse but I felt as though there was a reason in going. Caitlin just said we were meeting the girls at the brothel.  

I honestly couldn’t remember how far or close the brothel was. I haven’t been since returning to Haiti and the last time I went was last summer when I preached at the brothel and the team led worship. It was a powerful experience, but definitely overwhelming.

We set out towards the brothel and made it there in a quicker time then I remember it taking previously. It was still a bit overwhelming and intimidating as two men gave us a creepy vibe and one man stepped in front of us and stared us down, yet we confidently (hope and safety in trusting Jesus) walked around him and continued on the path.

We arrived at the brothel and were greeted by some of the women’s children. They are so cute. The women who were there greeted us and then took us in to see Junitha and her baby Erika. Junitha is one of the brothel girls who had her baby during my first week in Haiti and we got to name her daughter, Erika Rachel. We met with them and said hello and made sure that she and the baby were doing well. I will have to post photos and Junitha’s story later.

We then began to leave the brothel with some of the girls and headed towards the market. As we journeyed we stopped at this little house almost around the corner from the brothel. It was a home the girls had found to rent that they wanted to show Caitlin. Caitlin liked what she saw but wanted to negotiate with the owner and see the inside. We walked through the market and then to the owners house. He walked with us back to the house and opened. It was so nice compared to the brothel. It has three bedrooms, a little patio space out front and even a small back area like an alley way where they could cook and on the other side put a bathroom area. We loved it. Caitlin negotiated a price and paid the landlord a year’s worth of rent. It was around $200 American for an entire year’s rent. He said he would draw up papers.

The girls began singing and dancing and rejoicing. It was amazing. I was blessed to be there- to see and experience their joy… but to see the redemption and even rescue taking place. I had Caitlin’s phone and was able to capture a few photos and video.

How good is God? So so good.

Three of the girls: Natacha, Nadege, Medilia can now move out of the brothel and into the home. It will provide a safe place for them and for their children.

I love the work that Melonnie, Ashley and Caitlin do with Redeeming Gifts

Natacha: In Front of Her New Home
What is that? It is a ministry they started with the brothel girls. Twice a week the girls come for bible study and to make jewelry. The girls get paid every other week for the jewelry that they make and we sell it to visitors/teams that come to Haiti and to those in the states. They have had a few churches partner with them and host jewelry parties where they sell the jewelry. They also started a saving account system here at the mission for the girls. Each week the girls not only tithe, but they put away 10 dollars into an envelope as their savings account. This allows for them to save and build for their future. This allows them to make payment on their rent and teach them accountability with their finances but also teach them budgeting. It’s a marvelous thing.

Some of the beautiful girls!
Thinking back now on yesterday- I think of that stomach ache wanting to prevent me from going and it reminded me of last year when I went to the brothel. I had such intense pains in my stomach that I almost didn’t want to preach but I did it anyways and God was brought so much glory and praise there in that brothel as I preached and we sang worship. I believe it was spiritual attack- something trying to stop me being a part of what would take place, something that would allow the fear of the unknown, exhaustion of the possible walk, or fear of connecting with the girls. But I am glad I ignored that stomach ache and went with that still small voice and nudge of the Holy Spirit because He provided. As we were standing in the new home, one of the girls Gerline asked about me. She said that she remember me but didn’t know why. Caitlin told her that I was now living and working at the mission, that I delivered a message at the brothel last summer. She remembered me from last year and she was also the same girl who ran and hugged Caitlin and I during all the singing and dancing.

I know not every stomach ache is a nudge from God, most often times it is just part of normal life in Haiti. I am glad that as I sit here and type, still with a stomach ache much worse than yesterday that I know I got to be a part of NWHCM and more so, God’s Rescue, Restore, and Redeem. I am thankful I got to share this story with you. Thankful God uses those white girls for His Purpose!

If you would like the purchase any jewelry, please let me know. I would be more than willing to bring it back to you once I return to the states.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Walk Through

Gilbert and I
Each week I like to pick a child from the orphanage or Miriam Center to take with me to the One Stop, the local convenience store. Since the beginning my first choice has always been Gilbert. He was one of the reasons I was so excited to come back to Haiti. For two weeks he kept putting me off at each occasion that I would ask him. He was too tired, too busy, and couldn’t find his shoes. Then after my persistence he said yes.

I didn’t understand his hesitancy, we’d gone to the market before and I know he’d be on several occasion. I took him this summer. The main condition with going to the market this time was that he had to take a moto (motorcycle taxi) back to the mission because the walk was too much. I agreed with that since this summer when I took him I had to carry him the whole way back and the goat hill is quite a daunting walk up- especially carrying a child, or rather fifteen year old. The thought of taking a moto slightly was exciting and terrifying. Exciting in that it had been on my to-do list and taking one was really feeling  like a true resident because that’s what the locals do. The idea of riding a moto is terrifying in having to get on the back of a moto carrying myself and a child, essentially trusting my life in this stranger’s hands. Also while serving on a mission in Camden, my brother and dad were in a motorcycle accident and I don’t know that I have ridden since then.

After Gilbert took the normal nap that all the kids take, we began our trek. I was quick to see a deeper sense of his reluctance as he began to struggle as he took small steps towards the hill and we began to descend. Half way down the hill he was dripping sweat from his four head and as we walked the next three blocks, he didn’t say much or even greet people in the street. I felt their stares as they looked at Gilbert. Surely this was not the first time they’d seen him or any of the numerous children of special needs that we take out into the community. But it dawned on me, when Gilbert and I went to the store previously we were with at least twenty other people and children. He didn’t stand out with the white girl or you didn’t notice just him as this tiny little man. Walking through the village alone or running in the mornings, I stick out like a sore thumb. Even when we walk through with orphan girls, we stand out. But now even more there I was with this boy who isn’t even four feet tall.

I recall taking Joseph to the store the week prior, as people stared and as we were walking back this man kept cutting of Joseph and I was we walked home. He kept stepping and weaving in front of him with his wheel barrel. Joseph can’t properly communicate his words. But this man, saw him as different and began to mess with Joseph and even make fun of the sounds he makes in attempts to communicate words. It wasn’t for more than 100 feet before we had to turn onto another street but it made me sad to think that outside the gates, if they were alone that they would be ridiculed or picked on.

Gilbert is seen as rejected because of his disabilities. However if you know Gilbert, he is an extremely intelligent young man with so much sweetness and a hint of mischief. I think that Gilbert not only stands out for the obvious as we walked through the village, but because he is loved and special (in the best kind of way). He is chosen by the blan (white person) and he is getting treated.
Den Den
Courtesy: Jennly Nichole

As we arrived at the store, Gilbert did not want to go inside to avoid further stares. So I went in and got him everything he wanted. We then walked to the motos across the street and Gilbert handed him the money and told where to go. They seated Gilbert, then the moto drive and then I swung me leg around and hopped on. The ride was short and there were only a few moments that I was slight terrified. I held on to our bag of food with one hand and the other I had my hand on the driver’s should or on the bars below my seat.

Once back at the mission, we went upstairs in the common/dining area and had our drinks and invited Den Den for some snacks. As I went to hand Gilbert the cookies he asked me to buy, I gestured to open them but he said he didn’t want them right now. But that they were for his friend… the night nurse. Just like Gilbert to pull a fast one on me and have me buy the night nurse (whom he had a crush on) cookies, thinking they are for him to share with the other kids. 

My Sly Guy, Gilbert
Courtesy: Jennly Nichole
If you would like to sponsor Gilbert please visit: nwhcm.org or his individual pages:

You can sponsor him for any amount, or fill a Family Tree sponsorship for $30 a month (that's only $1 a day).

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Another Angel

October 8, 2013

Within a three week period I have now experienced two Haitian funeral of children within our special needs orphanage, the Miriam Center. It saddens my heart to have to deal with loss, especially grieving the death of a child.

We were all sitting at lunch on Saturday just talking and laughing when Stephanie came upstairs with a perplexed look on her face and said she had some news. At first we all thought, oh no, what have the kids done or broken now. Then slowly tears because to stream down her face. I knew immediately we had lost another child. She told us that Derson had just passed. However, there wasn’t as much sadness this time I think because we had spent the past week praying for Derson and his health. There was still sadness, yet there was also a comfort knowing that he had finally gone to dance with Jesus and was no longer suffering.
Derson is one of the boys you’ve probably seen me request prayer for over the past few months. During my time in Haiti this summer he was very sick and the interns would stay with him around the clock as he was on a breathing machine and having a difficult time. He got worse after I left this summer and then seemed to be doing alright.

Around the time I came back to Haiti this fall, he was sick again and having a hard time breathing. Two days before Rachel passed, Derson had completely stopped breathing which we couldn’t explain as he was revived and back in the nurses’ station for a little over a week. The fact that he was still alive was quite a miracle. God knew what would come and prepared our hearts. The same mama/nurse that takes care of Rachel, also takes care of Derson. I think it would have been devastating if two of the children passed within the same week. It would have been difficult also because Stephanie was not back from furlough and I can’t imagine being home while two of the kids you care for pass.

I believe God allowed us all some time to grieve the loss of Rachel (especially because it was sudden) before the Lord allowed Derson to pass. I know he is in heaven so happy and dancing and singing and eating at the Lord’s table. Derson had stopped eating awhile ago, it was a struggle to get him to eat or drink anything which was a surprise to why he was still going “strong”. I believe Derson is quite the little miracle without a doubt. When he arrived at the mission almost two years ago from another orphanage, they didn’t expect him to live longer than two months. Two years later Derson proved he’s a fighter and I think he also proved what love can do. Derson was loved on and poured into… his health was restored to better than when he arrived because he was cared after by those within the Miriam Center.

As a sat in the funeral yesterday, I couldn’t help but have a heavy heart. I saw Derson just about every day during my visit to the Miriam Center. I think what weighed on my heart the most though was watching the mamas grieve. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to have children of your own, but also to care for the children of the Miriam Center so much that they become your own. I believe the children of the Miriam Center are truly angels and gifts from God because they allow you to learn about yourself and about them. In Haiti, children with special needs are rejected. But here at the mission, they are loved and they are seen as any other child… they deserve love and they receive it. I can’t imagine what it most be like for the mamas as they begin caring for one of the children who has been rejected. Some part of their hearts and their culture I’m sure rejected these babies and kids. But God does something to your heart, he opens it and allows it go grown and he teaches you to love in the most unconditional way. Not all of the children in the MC- especially in the “lower-functioning” like Derson and Rachel can communicate their love back to you- yet God still allows you to learn and grow.

I know for me, my first time in the MC it was so difficult. I didn’t know how to love or even hold some of the children. But God did something to my heart. He broke it. He allowed me sense and feel the rejection these kids face, then he allowed for my heart to be filled with love as I made connection with child after child. He allowed His love for me to overflow upon these children in ways that I could never had expected.
Until I become a mom and get to pour out more love than I could have ever imagined for my children, I can’t help but know one of the reason God brought me back to Haiti is to love on these children… to show him the love that I feel and sense from God when I feel rejected and alone.

“But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” –Psalm 3:3

He whispers: “My child, when your shoulders are drooping, and your heart heavy, look to me. Life is filled with ordinary days, but I can make them extraordinary if you let Me. I care about your concerns. I will not only life your eyes toward heaven, so you can get a glimpse of My glory, but I will also lift the burden of your heart. Trust Me. You lift my heart far about the cares of the world and away from the enemies of fear, depression rejection and discouragement- with pride and satisfaction you can see a sneak peak of the permanent heavenly place I have for you.”

I thank you Lord for visions of hope and for always giving me fresh perspective. Thank you for your love and for allowing my heart to break and be filled with love.