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...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Lesson: Beauty in Haiti

I am continually learning that there is a lesson in everything, big or small in my life. Living in Haiti has allowed me to see a lot of beauty: of God’s creation in people and in nature and even beauty that He has created within me.

I am in awe each time that I realize and remember that God cares about my feelings, even the ones that aren’t so spiritual. Living in Haiti you are constantly drenched in sweat, covered in bug bites, and in general just looking like a hot mess. The worst is on days when it rains for a short period of time, causing it to be more humid, which means things are even more sticky and sweaty.

One day I was walking through the market with the girls, our normal Saturday morning routine. We were headed into town to run errands and exchange money. As we walked through the town square and towards the “bank”, a woman passed me in the street and said, “ou bel”. She called me beautiful. It was the simplicist words, but it was such a reminder that I am beautiful even on days that I don’t feel as such. I have learned that even wearing a pair of earrings, makes the biggest difference in feeling a little bit extra special even when my hair is a hot mess. Moments when you feel beautiful are typically in short supply. On many days when I feel that my love abounds to deeper levels as I exudes Christ’s love, grace and mercy. There are very few days that I actually feel as though I am exuding beauty.  Not that God cares what I look like when I am showing the beauty of His love, as a girl I sometimes do wish that I look nice.

Lesson: My feelings mean something to my Father, even the ones as simple as wanting to feel beautiful. So He sends someone to compliment me as I walk through the marketplace. God continually reminds me that I am beautiful, loved, and cherished… after all, we are all created in His image. He looks at me amidst my sweatiness, bug bites, and hair a mess and through my brokenness and says, “I love you, I will choose you again and again and You Are Beautiful.”


Words of Affirmation

I’ve taken the love languages test multiple times and words of affirmation is not one of my top ways I give or receive love. However, I believe men and especially children deserve and need words of truth and love. I did not grow up with positive words that were poured into my life onto a continual bases; things like: you are smart, you are beautiful, we are proud of you. I’ve had to fight the words of the world that are negative and work through a lot of self-worth over the years.

I know now that I am beautiful, I am made in God’s image and I am loved by an everlasting King and Father. I try to instill words of beauty and worth into our orphans here at the mission because they don’t have parents to do that; let alone brothers and sisters within the orphanage that offer such affirmation. Sometimes they thank me for my kind words, other times you can see by the look on their faces that they don’t believe the words I am delivering. 

There are most days where I am good at this and I remember to try to be affirming the children continually. But there was one day that I was not so great. I was walking through the village with one of our orphan girls, treating her for a one on one at the One Stop for some quality bonding time. There is a teenage girl, of about twelve or so, that we pass in the village. She is a mean little child, most times as we pass her by she pinches us extremely hard or is really rude. Today was one of those days, she ran up with her mean spirit and look, and you could see she wanted to pinch me. I gave her a mean look, she then stood there and called me fat. In return, in English and in Creole I called her ugly and kept on walking. I honestly didn’t feel bad, as she does not need to have such a bad behavior and she really physically hurt me last time she snuck up on me and pinched me. As we walked back by after the market, she ran after me attempting to pinch me hard… I quickly moved my hand away and shouted NO! at her and shook my hand. It might have been a bit dramatic but I hope that it got the point across.

Looking back, I wish that I wouldn’t have said such mean words. She probably is not affirmed ever, so she has developed a calloused heart to those around her. She pinches others to receive any sort of attention, which just isolates her from others wanting to greet her when they pass her in the streets.

Lord, I pray for this little girl. That she would come to know who you are, that your sweetness would infect her soul and spirit. Lord, I pray that she would know that she is beautiful and loved and created in your image. I pray that I will continually use words to affirm others, lifting them up to know you more. May I reflect your light and love continually, even when someone is rude or mean. Allow me to always shine your light, that it may never grow dim.

Thank you Lord for the little lessons you continue to teach me.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Prison Break

So there wasn’t a prison break, but the title got your attention.

Yesterday I went to the prison for the first time. I had attempted to go last week but because there had been so much rain and we take public transit we couldn’t go.

Melonnie, who to launch both the brothel and prison ministries in Haiti, is in town and I got to go with her group and Caitlin and Magdala who normally go each week. I’ve been wanting to go for awhile now but just found the idea of talking to a bunch of Haitian men in a cell to be quite intimidating, especially with the language barrier.

The experience was overwhelming to say the least. We travelled via a hired tap-tap to the prison in Port de Paix. As we got to the prison we unloaded all the supplies that Melonnie and the team had brought in. The prison guards searched them… there were three boxes of Haitian/Creole bibles, hygeniene supplies, batteries, Christian radios, condiments and other snacks.

The prison holds about 420 prisoners roughly, that is nine men’s cells and 1 women’s cell. You do the math, that is a lot of prisoners per cell. We started visiting with a few of the men’s cells. As JT and Jim sorted through the supplies we first went to visit the women’s cell. They were so funny and so sweet, and some of the women were just so beautiful. Melonnie shared with them how she was doing and then she moved on to the men’s cells. Caitlin and I stayed awhile and talked with the women about life. They make these beautiful headbands from material we give them, I will definitely be sporting them once home. They asked if I was married or dating any one, they said I look like a wife. I will gladly take as a compliment as I hope to be one someday to a wonderful God-fearing man. I talked my little bit of Creole with them, which they were impressed and said I looked forward to seeing them next week. We then moved across the way to the men’s cells.

The smells were overwhelming- it was combination of man sweat, pee, mixed with the heat and humidity amongst other things. So much happen that I cannot even fully describe or remember what it was like, but I do remember that one of the cells of men had 56 people in it. They have to take turns sleeping in shifts, they have buckets in the corner, in which they pee in and quite possibly poop if they have to go. Can you imagine that? Fifty-five eyes on you as you’re doing your business. No thank you and I’m sure the smell alone as you move closer is awful. We gave a tattoo kit to one of the men, so they could give each other tattoos and we made sure to tell all of the other cells that the man wasn’t allowed to charge them for tattoos. I cannot even imagine once they run out of needles, how they will improvise or how they can possibly keep a tattoo sanitary, to say the least.

One cell is filled with primarily older gentlemen, which broke my heart to see their old wrinkly faces. To wonder how long they have been there or how much family life that they are missing out on. They are grandpas to someone. Another cell was full of young boys, twenty of them all under the age of eighteen. Most of them will probably be in there for a few years, and some of them for life if they ever get a court date. One cell men was filled with so much entitlement, as they wanted more than what we had brought them. That cell received two Creole Bibles and two Engligh, but for one man, that didn’t seem to be enough. He wanted his own Creole bible, they wanted more. It was crazy how, even within a cell they still wanted more because they assumed we could give it to them. Instead of being thankful that they were being given anything as they’re sitting in this cell, some of them wanted more. Others were excited and thankful. One cell asked for JT’s shoes, the shoes that he was currently wearing. What was he supposed to do, take off his shoes and go back barefoot? Some of their asks were just outrageous for what I would have expected from men in a prison.

My favorite was how many men asked about me and how many hit on me, it was very intimidating, yet sometimes funny. I think what made me feel safe was the bars in which they stood behind because being in an area with 400 Haitian men who smelled of prison musk and the fact that we had two men with us as well. A lot of men are just awaiting a court date, some of the men have not even committed a crime but just merely have owed money. I think it will be very interesting when I go next week with just Caitlin and Magdala, no men and no translator and with no gifts for them. I am looking forward to going to the prison next week (my final week in Haiti)- learning what I can learn and looking for moments of how I can see God’s redemption in some of these men and women. My favorite pick up line was as follows:

Man: Excuse me, can I ask you a favor?
Me: Yes.
Man: Will you remember my name?
Me: What is your name?
Man: {whispers name}. Will you remember in your heart? {winks}
Me: No, only Jezi (Jesus in Creole) is the only man in my heart.
Other prisoners laugh...

As we were getting ready to leave the prison, I was covered in bug bites… chiggers and sand fleas. I had to have at least thirty something bites from just the filth and dirt of the prison, covered in sweat, and unable to fully process everything I had just experience and saw. A full day later and I am still having a hard time. I cannot imagine how hard it is for some of them to live there, hard on them and hard on their families. At the end of the day, they are still children of God; merely awaiting judgment day like all of us.  

I think my devotional from the morning is so fitting:

“And if any… sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Chris the righteous.” -1 John 2:1

Jesus was tried and convicted, He served our sentence.

For us, we are accused daily by the enemy. Take the Lord as proof for our innocence. His blood covered our guilt and set our spirit free. His Word silences the enemy and reminds me that: He is my advocate, my go-between to the Father.

I am guilty but He has pardoned my record. My sins are forgiven and my future is secure.
My life cost Jesus, His.

I pray that I can share this good news with the prisoners, or that when I feel like I am in my on prison (held down by lies and accusations) that I remember that He advocated for me and I am innocent in the Father’s Court. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sweet Samson

“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord!” –Job 1:21

A few weeks ago, I got to meet a sweet baby. We named him Samson.

I had heard that there was a baby sick in our maternity ward, having just grieved the loss of two children from our Miriam Center in the past month I didn’t have any intention of going down to the center.

My roommate had left our staff lounge about an hour before I did, I just assumed she went to bed early as she often does. I went to our room to find it empty. I began to search for her. Once you have a roommate sick and on an IV, you tend to worry that she is passed out somewhere because she hasn’t let you know, yet again, how she is feeling. I searched the roof, the lounge, the dorms, everywhere I could think of and to no avail I couldn’t find her. Then it hit me, she had to be with this sweet baby that we had heard was sick.
Sure enough there she was. I felt the emotional heaviness as I walked in the room. He was sick. As I consulted with the doctor and nurses, they said that he was barely breathing. His pulse was 40, and it normally should be at about 100 or 120. He was fading. We went and met with the mom, while my roomie held this precious child of God. We prayed with her and over her and we sang in Creole. We checked on him again, the nurse said that we would keep him on the breathing machine and IV to make him comfortable, but it would only be another few hours before he would be joining the Lord.

My heart ached with sorrow for this new mother as she was seventeen and had refused to even hold her precious boy. It is typical in Haitian culture for a mother not to hold her baby the first day or two that it is born, for fear of health concern. That the baby will die. The thought is heartbreaking. Across the room sat this young mother who had carried this child in her womb for nine months, gave him birth, and now was going to lose him and she never got to hold him. I wept as I prayed over this sweet child- I prayed that there could be a miracle. That God would choose to work a miracle in his life, but I also prayed that he would be made who and no longer in pain if that was God’s will. Less than two hours after I had held sweet Samson, Jesus chose a different kind of healing for him.

I am continually amazed how God allows me to grieve and rejoice in the same moment, how He allows me to continually love. I get to rest in knowing that sweet Samson is with my sweet Jesus.
Samson was only about 36 hours old, weighing just under five founds. I knew Samson for two of those thirty-six hours and somehow I was able to love him. To comfort and hold him, to pray over him and weep with him, I was able to love a sweet boy who barely had the strength to clench his tiny hand around my finger.

I wonder why God constantly allows me to love more and more each day. I am amazed at how my love abounds, like the massive ocean. I think of the way God loves and the people that He heals. The people that Jesus heals eventually get sick again and eventually join Him in heaven. God loved people enough to do everything in His power to make them better. Jesus’ miracles show of the depth of His love and He joins us in our suffering and loves us in those bedrooms, huts, valleys and mountaintops. He loves us right where we are.

As much as I would like to “save the world”, I realize that we aren’t called to do that. We are called to love, to love with abandon. We are called to love our neighbors, right where they are. Sometimes are neighbors are in Haiti or Kenya or Peru, sometimes they're on the East Coast, and sometimes their just that person literally next door, that person you just passed on the sidewalk. We are called to enter into each other’s suffering and to love them right there, right where they are. Maybe I did nothing but hug, love, and pray over Samson for a few hours longer. He now holds a piece of my heart, that is forever changed.

I rejoice in those two short hours I had with him. I am rejoicing because one day I will see him again and be able to tell him how he taught me to and allowed me to love just a little bit more that day.
I pray that Samson now has touched your heart and has allowed you to love just a little bit more each day and to love each person you encounter

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mixing Things Up

Today Caitlin and I went down to the Nutrition Center, where the orphans eat out. We visited with some of the kids in the program and then waited for the orphan kid’s food to arrive. We were going to change it up.
There is this magnificent plant in Haiti called Moringa, known as Dole Leaf to the Haitians,  and it has the capabilities to pull a child out of malnutrition.

Amazingly, Moringa grows in subtropical areas, where malnutrition is most prevalent. It was as if people had a goldmine in their backyard and simply didn’t know it. Moringa leaves could practically wipe out malnutrition on our planet.
Where Malnutrition Is Most Prevalent

Where Moringa Grows

Experts agree that the long-term solution to malnutrition is the use of foods rich in the essential nutrients often lacking in people's diets. Modern scientific research is proving that Moringa leaves are one of the richest sources of such nutrients. Even small amounts of the leaves could protect thousands of people from suffering and death.

Gram for gram, Moringa leaves contain:

We have one of our outreach moms collect the leaves, dry them and then we grind them into a powder. We mix half a tablespoon in with their meal. The kids in the Miriam Center have been using it for at least a few months and with the plague of mumps and fevers running rapid amongst the orphanage and school children, the kids need nourishment and anything that will help them to stay healthy, as well as build up their immune systems.

We sprinkled some of each of the older boys plates, as soon as they said it was good and then the younger ones then wanted it. Later some of the girls were complaining that we didn’t want them to be strong because we didn’t give them any. Little did they know that we mixed it in the giant pot of food and they all got some magic powder. We will do the same at dinner tonight as well.

As a staff, we have begun using the magic sprinkles on all of our meals to help provide us with the nourishment that we need and cannot get from our food in Haiti as well.