Going Away: They seriously love me!

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Is it strange that I think we had more fun at our dance party than our children?

I love this family. I hate goodbye but I love this family. I love how they completely knew what I would love. Acts of Service – it’s so my love language. Dance Party, it is. We danced all night and had a photo booth to capture wonderful/hilarious memories (thank you, Steven!) Imageand ate delicious cake (shout out to my girl and long time roomie, Kelly!) and laughed and cried and partied gangsta-style all night long (just ask the ultimate OG – Karris Hudson! I seriously couldn’t have desired any cooler way to say “see you later!”

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I love y’all more than you know and am more grateful to do life with you supa up-close” and now a tad bit further away. We will always share an understanding of each other that is only discovered within incredible nights of no generators, no water, no fans; the film of dusty sweat that marks a productive days work, the border crossings, hilarious language barrier experiences, and never to be left out – the incredible sandal tan line that is more a trademark or right of passage than anything.

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Thank you for an incredible send off!

Never Goodbye…

Baby Bergly: Choosing To Fight Anyway

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No matter how many miracles (on every scale) that we witness on a daily basis – whenever a rescue doesn’t end in success it is painful. It is painful because in choosing to fight for a child’s life we are choosing to be attached. To love. To go all in. Even when it doesn’t look promising. Even when it doesn’t even look hopeful. Aware of the potential pain in hopes of the potential success. And choosing to fight anyway.

Tonight my heart isn’t hurting for Bergly.

It actually makes me smile a little knowing that he has no more exhausted cries that sound like light little hums or emotional meltdowns (on his behalf) to get any kind of food into his belly. At two years old Bergly weighed only 11 lbs. (ya that’s right, what you probably weighed at birth) and any sense of exerted energy was just about too much for his little body to handle without a nap. And when I say exerted energy I mean swatting my hands away for too long and/or thinking of strategic ways to get the food out of his mouth before I got it back in. It really took it out of the little fella.

Tonight my heart is not hurting for him, but for his young mother who is about to receive news that her baby died. That she won’t even able to be there, to say goodbye, or to grieve at a burial. Just continue on with life as usual, as if he never was. My heart is hurting because I can not even imagine how her heart will be hurting.

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I am grateful, however, that along with the news of baby Bergly’s passing we are able to sincerely say that he didn’t go down without a fight. That there were many people working on his behalf… staying up nights and monitoring him each day. Interceding on his behalf to the God who created him and numbered his days. There were people caring for him and loving him and taking care of his mother and brother. I am grateful for The Real Hope for Haiti and how they were willing to take him on, knowing his severity, and fight for him until the very last moment.

Bergly is only one of many stories of complications within malnutrition. The inevitable effects of a food crisis, a country in crisis, and a family in crisis. Stories like his are taking place many times every minute. Unknown names. Unknown faces. So often fading from this earth only known and loved by Jesus. One more reason I am so grateful to all who are making it possible for Danita to make our Medical Center a reality. So Mom’s like Bergly’s don’t have to spend the rest of her life wondering what her baby boy would have grown up to be like.

Psalm 34:18 “Our Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and he saves those who are crushed in their spirits.

Our Lord is always with us, but especially close in the moments that break our hearts. And tonight my broken hearted prayer is for Bergly’s mom. That she would find peace within the tragic reality and pain of losing a child after two years of a desperate struggle, and that she would know that God hears her hurt and He is present… even when she can’t identify Him.

… and that her sweet baby boy is safe, happy, and whole.

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Life, Sleepovers and The Plague

My goodness, life has gotten the best of me and I have not touched writing. However, for those who keep up – I am doing well. Life is good – and summer has arrived early this year! My goodness, the sweating never ends. No reason to even try and appear decent – all efforts are an epic fail. I wrote a post last year around this time about how I never knew that I could sweat this much. Well, truly nothing is new under the sun and it’s just daily life now-a-days.

We have had a massive virus free flowing through our camp – I call it the plague – and I believe we are finally on the up climb from it. Weeks of multiple kids with 104 fevers, vomiting, coughing and just looking so sad and pathetic is never fun. It is in those moments that I am always wishing that their little mischievous personalities would return because I hate seeing them so tired and listless. I got caught up in the madness for about a week of feeling like I got hit by a truck – which made me feel even worse for our little guys because I knew they were feeling just as bad. However, I am recovered and vaccinated – no typhoid or malaria for me, folks!

All in all, life is wonderful. I am so grateful to be spending my time here and committing these young years to service of God’s children. It is a true testament to having a plan, but God writing the story of my life.  I have a semi-freak-out-wanna be-meltdown in my head every now and then because I have no plan, but I read an article recently (you can read it here) about the staff and what it represents (the power and faithfulness of God) and it reminded me that my God is bigger than my plan, how He is always true to His promises and how He doesn’t change – not when times were worse and not ever in the future – and how my plan ultimately doesn’t matter anyway if I’ve given away my whole heart to Him and am walking in His ways.

In the mean time, life is full of hard work, long nights, birthdays, sleepovers and dance parties – always a staple at Hope For Haiti!

  

Thank you to my few sponsors who make my time here possible. Every time I buy groceries I am thinking of you and thanking God for the ability to be able to do so. These are definitely years of sacrificing and growing and learning and continuing a foundation that will sustain anything that the future holds.

…and the adventures continue – I’m gonna go sweat some more and maybe eat a mango or something!

P.S. I have some special some ones coming in just about a week that I am so beyond excited to see! I am like a kid at Christmas. They say some mumbo jumbo about coming to see the kids or something, but we all know it’s solely for yours truly! It has made this heat and sickness so much more bearable knowing that a part of my family is making the trip to bare it with me – I’m not sure that they are prepared for all of this, but I’m trying to down play it until they get here – muahahahahaha!!! < evil laugh

XOXO,

Hope

These Words Won’t Leave My Mind

As I continue to get backgrounds and histories on our children there are just some that don’t leave my heart. It’s so different when you see a child, then learn what their life is like.

I never continue to see them the same.

I then understand their actions, I feel their heart, I see their pain and I am humbled at their happiness and laughter.

One of our boys has a mother. She lives in our village and is very poor. She has a lot of children and leaves them alone a lot to go into the Dominican and work. They live in a two room house, and when I say two rooms I don’t mean two bedrooms. I mean like two rooms total in the house. Two wooden, square rooms the size of walk in closets.

Our boy loves his family. He is proud of them, but also grateful that he lives with us. He was having some behavior issues one time and his mother came to talk to him. What she said to him hasn’t left my mind.

She said, “I think you have forgotten what it’s like outside these walls, son. You don’t understand how good you have it…” – then the kicker – “…I just had to sell our bed to be able to feed the rest of your siblings this week.”

Sell their bed. The only bed. In order to eat.

Now all of his siblings and his mother will sleep on dirt at night. No blankets. No pillows.

I’m not asking you to feel guilty for what you have because God provides and His word says that He provides in abundance. More than enough. Extra… just because He wants to.

But I am asking you to feel grateful.

Because you really have it pretty good in life if you just take a second to look.

If you look around for things to be grateful for, you will indeed find things to be grateful for. However, if you look around for negative things, that is what you will find as well.

The question is – what are you looking for?

Laughter is Like Milk… It Does A Body Good!

 

I think God must have known that I needed a good laugh today.

I began creating profiles for our children so that when people inquire to sponsor them they have photos and information on hand of each child. In Haiti there are three levels of Kindergarden, so many of the children who I were interviewing today are brand new to the whole school idea.

The first week when school started there was the long lesson of – What do you mean I can’t just pee wherever I’m standing? What’s a bathroom?

And of course – I miss my mom!

And just the complete distraction of uniforms and pencils and chalk and all the other exciting things that come along with going to school for the first time.

The questions that I was asking today were about family and eating and favorite subjects. Mostly fun questions, but some are needed for medical history, hygiene, needs, etc.

However, starting with the four-year old class probably wasn’t the best idea since kids are kids no matter where you are and just because they live in the worst poverty in the Western Hemisphere they are just as unaware of everything past playing with cars and singing.

I got some of the best answers today trying to figure out things about these children.

A few went something like this:

“What’s your Mom’s name?”

“Little Lady.”

“No, not her nickname. What is her real name?”

“That’s it. Her sur name is Little Lady.”

When asking what these K-1 students would like to be when they grow up, I got a range of answers, including:

“a bear.”

“A woman who answers phones for people.”

“All of them. I want to be everything there is.”

“rice.” (No joke. That was her answer.)

Another question, “Does your mom have a job?”

I got one boy who said, “Yes – My Dad works and then pays my Mom to cook me food.”

and one boy proudly proclaimed, “Yes she has a job!”

“Well what is her job?”

“Each morning she bathes me, gives me food and sends me off to school.”

Ahhhh, kids. They’ll getcha every time.

Enjoy your Thursday folks. Laugh a little.

Goodnight,

Hope

Beautiful Things.

I’ve been home for three weeks and I miss a different aspect of Haiti each day. I am grateful that I am able to learn the heart of the organization, and grateful to be able to walk this path at all. Somewhat conflicting at times, but I am confident that there is purpose in it.

Haiti has completely changed my perception of worship. I can no longer sing songs like “You make beautiful things out of dust…”, thinking of my life, my circumstances, or not even just how great God has been to me (and He has been GREAT – in all caps); but only of an Almighty God who continues to create beautiful stories out of nothing.

Literally.

He created Danita’s Children out of only the deep anguish in a woman’s heart.

He changed the lives of almost 500 children by providing them an education that will in turn begin a cycle of prosperity within their families.

He is creating the medical center, which will act as a light house in a world where there are no options.

And the best part

is that Danita’s story is not the only one, the best one or the biggest one.

Simply the one that I am watching unfold right now.

God is creating beautiful stories everyday. Out of nothing. All over the world.

It’s not all about you. About me. About America.

He is saving children and governments and single souls who simply ask.

I walked away from Haiti feeling like a better missionary. But not because I went to Haiti. But because I learned more about compassion and grace.

I feel like a better missionary because I see hurting and desperate people in a different way – in the grocery store, the post office, the beach – whether it’s because they can’t provide for their family, they are disabled and homeless, or just young, insecure and desperate for attention. I see them with my heart, and if this journey ended today I would be grateful for that alone.

I would be grateful for new vision.

Grateful for new worship.

Grateful that every time I sing “you make beautiful things out of us…” I am reminded of how such a beautiful journey came out of the chaos that once was my life.

So in the mean time, I’ll wait for an illuminated path.

Although waiting can be frustrating, I feel encouraged and hold a great sense of contentment.

God certainly has a plan.

A plan for my journey and for yours, and for all the kids in Haiti that I now know as hilarious – girls who love “Justin Beaver”, singing and making up dance routines, watching old 90’s dvd’s like “Saved By The Bell” and “7th Heaven”, and have the same insecurities that I had at 15 (weight, boys, fitting in, dressing cute). Boys who want to prank, play video games, play with toy cars (aka “machines”) and do anything and risk everything to get a mango down from the tree.

Although working stateside isn’t the exciting part of a missionaries work, it is still a necessary part of keeping the work of the kingdom moving. The part that makes it so much easier are those who have a place in their hearts for the work that is being done and partner with missionaries – in the field and stateside – to ensure the continuing execution of the job.

Even more so are those who are the greatest encouragement by reading and commenting on my writing and covering our work in their prayers and support.

I am excited to have the opportunity to work stateside for Danita’s Children, advocating for a group of kids who each have a beautiful story that could have so easily looked differently.

Truly bloomed out of the dust.

Thank you to those of you who have sacrificed for the difference.

The Usual.

Um, I just went to visit the house of a dead person, and my heart is so heavy.

I didn’t know this woman – never even met her – but the effect that she had at Danita’s children’s center still very much remains. I passed the very spot where she passed, walking with the staff member in whom’s arms she died. She was family to the team at Danita’s Children and when Brittany and I went to check on her kids it was apparent that their hearts were heavy as well. They smiled and said the right things, easily detected by someone who has so often done the same.

They immediately brought out an album of a happy young woman, in her remembrance. Their mother. Their mom. Who they would never get to say I love you too again.

The house was dark – lacking both types of energy.

Often times in Haitian culutre when parents die their children go to live with relatives and become child slaves at their new home. Think Cinderella with no knight in shining armor and no glass slipper. They sleep on the floor when the rest of the kids sleep in a bed, things like that, working all day to “earn their keep”.

Knowing this cultural tradition Brittany wanted to check on the kids and see how they were being treated, and as I watched them I wanted to mourn with them. To let them know it was ok to be upset. Everyone acting like it’s just something to get over. How is a child – 7 years old – supposed to just “get over” their mom never coming into their home again, never cooking them a meal, regardless of how fancy or extensive the meal is. She wasn’t even sick. She was young and healthy. And one day she just collapsed. They’ll never know why.

Regardless of economic status, how are these families expected to not have the same emotions in their heart because they live differently than we do in the states? It broke my heart that when people pass away in Haiti the family wakes up the next day and keeps surviving, when we so easy to stop our worlds because of insignificant, trivial moments.

Just something to think about.

Feeling so grateful and overwhelmed.. so much to write, but can’t grasp the concepts let alone form the words.

P.S. On the way back to the girl’s house (it’s been raining all day) we passed a little boy bathing in the rain gutter. And a mom rinsing out her mop in it too.

You know, the usual.