How Loud Is Your Voice?

Every time i glanced behind me there she was. Her dirty Gap shirt and unkept hair couldn’t hide the huge but sheepish, gap toothed grin in response to my eye contact. Like she had never seen such a thing. Blonde hair is a comodity in Haiti, I have learned.

We were in the market. Work study day. Every Thursday the kids at Hope for Haiti give back to their community. A servalution, if you will. Whether delivering food to a family in the village or cleaning, they are in groups that rotate each week.

Today I was tagging along to the market to buy Some necessities for a women and her son (one of Danita’s students) who are both HIV positive and because of the poor immune system and bad living conditions, have both contracted tuberculosis. By being admitted into the hospital, the woman’s other children are left at home. With themselves. Brittany (one of the missionaries) stops by her home daily to ensure food is being prepared by the oldest and then crosses into Dajabone, Dominican Republic to update the woman on her children.

This in itself is a luxury.

The two girls who are with us are responsible for picking out the items on a budget and then delivering the gifts and visiting with the boy and his mom. As we walk, the street child isn’t far behind. When we stop, she’s just behind the closest hanging, playing “smile back and forth” with me.

After a moment I glanced over to play and a shop keeper began slapping the girl with a cloth of some sort. My heart in my stomach, I didn’t even know how to react, and the girl just turned her back to him with shame and embarrassment, stone cold expression on her face, taking it.

A million thoughts flying through my head, not know which one to respond to first, i just stood there. In my American nature I immediately began looking for her parents, thinking “this is ridiculous!”. No where. Then trying to figure out what to say that he would understand.

Nothing.

As he continued to hit her, my friend Brittany heard the commotion as she was making her purchase and started yelling, “hey! HEY!” and then embraced the girl by the shoulders to step in between her and the man and in Creole began yelling at him, “What is your problem? She’s just a kid, she didn’t do anything.” The man told her that she had been staring and stormed away.

Staring? Really? Brittany turned to the girl to console her and the little girl immediately broke. Se turned away from us and began to weep. Wiping her tears with her shirt, she didn’t want to expose her vulnerable heart in a world where she is desperate to survive. A tender heart is not an option.

No one had ever spoken up for her. She just knew to “take it”.

We are their voice. You and I. We are their option.

For about 100 kids, Danita became their option. Supporters like you and I became their option.

Brittany became the little girls option today. She filled the gap.

How many are there who have no voice? No option? Who just, take it?

For as much as we spend on lunch a day, we could give a child the chance at a choice. An option. An option to smile, to hope, to dream.

Whether they are poor, white, sick or hurting, they have the same little soul and innocent spirit as your child does. As you do. It’s our job to allow it to shine.

Brittany pulled the little girl over to us that afternoon and told her to pick out anything from the table of hygiene goods – soaps, perfume, lotion (not what your thinking.. you’re thinking Dillards.. think garage sale) – and she pointed to the back, to a single pair of girls panties. And smiled ear to ear as she ran away, with her first and only undergarment.

Read Stories About Those Who Gained a Voice

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Easter 2011: The Big Sha-Bang

April 24, Sunday

This morning overwhelmed my heart.

I am often times found standing in my tracks, mesmerized as I experience the true faithfulness of God.

Today was another one of those days.

With a team of pure hearts to serve, who have been planning this for weeks and weeks, and knowing that execution needed to be flawless, the energy was super-charged. I actually had nerves, I was so excited.

5 AM seemed like nothing but Christmas morning as I gathered my luggage for the day and headed out (I learned my lesson from my first 5 am unload.. Sweats and no hair/make-up: there’s too much work to do to be done in all the Sunday morning get-up and it’s too humid to expect my hair to not be a fro the second i step out the door).

My usual office was blocked off so I had to shift to a different ledge opening. Dan was so gracious enough to share his office space with me, and i pretty immediately began taking breakfast orders. Alma went with me, which is such a help, and we returned to organize and deliver.

After my set-up duties (everything in place, set-up flowing, sound check checking, t-shirt tables good) I found a quiet little hole in the wall with a plug and a mirror and got to work.

By the time 10 AM hit I was so jittery. Just the thought of the many souls in the house this morning gave me butterflies for them. Because potentially, their life will be changed forever this morning.

The worship team opened with a U2 rendition of “Beautiful Day” and away we went.

The energy was hyped, the music was on que, and all was right in the world. I was super stoked when I saw the bowl around our sanctuary arena being filled like a chain. Just kept coming. And that brought tears to my eyes. All the work and no tax deductions and 5am at the mall, all so insignificant to that moment, when I looked around and saw a full house only getting more packed out.

God is so good and so faithful. And now, we rest.

Easter 2011: Love Reach

April 23, Saturday

Today was organized into teams of two, to go into the communities behind the Lakeland Center and reach them with love and information to worship with us, if they had nowhere else to attend church on Easter Sunday.

Each team had a different “territory” to reach and the dynamic duo of Pastor Marisol and myself merged with some of our youth.

It was a privilege to watch them speaking with a less fortunate community about worship.

Although they were momentarily traumatized because many of the families in the government housing deveopment came to the door with minimal clothing (hey, when there’s no air, you gotta do whatcha gotta do) it was a hilarious experience and was a benefit to so many families who were blessed that day and will be at the service as well.

Easter 2011: Great Friday

April 22, Great Friday


I can’t call today Good Friday because it was so much more than that. Istead I have taken the liberty of naming it Great Friday and enjoyed every second of our Good Friday service, which was unlike anything else we do at Free Life Chapel.

It was an intimate setting, very short for those on a lunch break, and so significant to what Christ did on that day.

Well not that day exactly, but something like it.

Seeing grown men with tears in their eyes because of the grace that’s been poured out for them will touch anyone.

They’ll getcha right in the heart, just like a child will.

Lord, let us never forget the blood that you shed.

The remainder of the day was walking through and planning and getting all those little tid-bits lined up.

(You know all of those flawless moments that just seem to fall into place and look sooooo cool…. ya, well they don’t just fall into place. Who knew. Crazy, right?)

Then video announcements in the crime scene area.

Then filming the crime scene in the crime scene area.

Looks crazy realistic, right?

Thank You Lakeland Police Department.

Up tomorrow: Love Reach

Easter 2011: The Preparation Pt.II

Previously on Easter 2011: The Preparation…

….So after much debate about the dangers of a young girl at the Brandon mall at 6am by herself and many restrictions and laws laid down by the powers at be of Free Life Chapel, guess who gets to rock out to Carrie Underwood with some Dunkin Donuts at 5 am? Ya, that’s right. Your’s truly. …

Upon arrival to the Brandon Town Center, the “crew” as I call them, were already forming their line. I jumped right in (a little against the laws laid down, but don’t tell – the rule was don’t be there with less than two people, and I wasn’t. But the rule also was to wait for the daylight to come before i got out of the car, and i was.)

BUT IF I DIDN’T THEN I WOULD HAVE LOST MY SPOT IN LINE AND IT WOULD DEFEAT THE PURPOSE!

So lets get back to the story and just slide right by that last paragraph.

The long and short of it is that they gave me the run down of how it all worked and also that they had all been lining up everyday for a week and got nothing (do they have jobs? Do they not have jobs? We don’t know) so don’t get my hopes up.

I sat in my spot and put my make-up on, checked e-mails, read a little iBooks, and waited until 8 when the mall employee hearded us like cattle into the next waiting area – a roped off box in front of the apple store – longing and lusting after the big white logo above the doorway – while the employees were inside just pointing and mocking us. Ok, so I made that part up but “the crew” was really getting fussy that they were taking longer than usual to reveal the daily delivery.

When the moment came everybody got all silent and a little awkward. I felt as if i were part if that old short story everyone read in grade school, “The Lottery”. You know where they all have to pick out of the black box and everyone is gossiping about the outcome. Fourth in line (big shout out to half way breaking rules) I got the fourth card for a 16G iPad 2, thank you very much! Only thing was that it didn’t have 3G access, and we we’re realllyy wanting our newcomer to have access to 3G, but I remained thankful, took the RSVP card and went about my business. I didn’t even say bye to the crew, they all hung around and showed each other their little tabs, as if they were about to get into the Chocolate Factory or something.

By the time Pastor Cindy hustled about, performing her many early morning tasks, and made her way to pay for the new prize, she just so asked in conversation for our sales rep to check the back one more time for an iPad 2 with 3G access and guess what – you’re not gonna believe it – yep, uh huh, he came out with a box in his hand.

So super pumped that that company never came to pick up their order, which allowed us the iPad 2, we were able to get the Mac daddy (no pun intended) – everything we asked for – with a special invitation for set-up so that the winner doesn’t have to randomly figure it all out.

Needless to say, Cindy Thomas and I walked out of that store doing the happy dance.

No seriously, we were. People were staring.

Easter 2011: The Preparation

April 19, Tuesday night

Tonight was just spent running around in search of iPads, bikes, Nintendo DS, etc.. only to find out that they were out or didn’t know when they were available (every Wal-mart, Target and Best Buy in the Central Florida area has heard my voice) or only had the most expensive version (convenient!). Then picking out two bikes, having them put up front, filling the buggy with 50 bubble sticks and 50 bags of play dough (which the kids are gonna love!) after the employee had to dig more out of the back – because what kid wants grey play dough – and of course was invited to experience FLC worship in the process, only to find out that it’s about a 10 year process for a tax ID number to be entered and couldn’t purchase any of it anyways.

Ok, maybe 10 years is a small exaggeration. But thats not the point.

All after midnight, i might add.

I love these kinds of nights.

At the end of Tuesday (I still say Tuesday even though it was after midnight.. I go by the “it isn’t the next day until you fall asleep” rule), we left with one iPad2.

BUT, a vital tip off that the apple store in Brandon gets a shipment of iPads in every morning and people line up outside of the store at 6am to see what came in that day – could be 20, could be 2 – and hopefully walk away with a new toy.

Therefore, after much debate about the dangers of a young girl at the Brandon mall at 6am by herself and many restrictions and laws laid down by the powers at be of Free Life Chapel, guess who gets to rock out to Carrie Underwood with some Dunkin Donuts at 5 am? Ya, that’s right. Your’s truly.

As you have read before, I LOVE driving early in the morning. I don’t love waking up early, but once I’m on the road and there is that eery calm, I couldn’t be better. Then it just gets hot and it’s not that great anymore. But for that “moment” it’s all worth it.

Behind the Scenes: FLC Staff Meeting

I love sitting here in staff meeting, being the stalker that I am.. I think it’s becoming a sickness really. There are actually times of my day that I experience in blog form. Like I am writing them as they play out.

I know, I know, I am a complete weirdo.

Literally, for a couple of hours I am listening to the staff gush – gush – over loving our volunteers and families and amazing experiences that have taken place from the previous service. Each staff member talks about their duties or what they oversee, who helped made it happen and how great they were.

Then went through each step of the service and gave stories – horror and hero – of what happened, who was involved, how it was great and how to make it better the next time.

Then the usual, things coming up and how each person can help.

What was truly awesome to hear was the conversation of those who were not able to make it or had something amazing happen in their lives that week. Like particular people, and what is going on in their lives, or if they need prayer. It isn’t often that a large and quickly growing church is able to still see the single sheep.

And there is something to be said about a large and quickly growing church that still cares, very deeply, to do take the time to do so. Just saying.

l am honored to be a part of this house, talking with so many people who are so driven with pure hearts to serve – no matter where it is, who they are (pastor, graphics, intern, and everyone in between), or what the sacrifice is – to see the vision of the house come together.

Just thought i would throw that out there this Tuesday afternoon.

I ABSOLUTELY love this place! Be Blessed!