Messy Love.

Sometimes love doesn’t look as expected.

Sometimes it’s takes your breath away.

Sometimes love is playful.

In so many cases love isn’t fair and doesn’t make sense at all.

For children, love is out of their control, and their lives will be shaped and formed by what they perceive to be love.

Sometimes love means cleaning up the selfish mistakes of others.

And sometimes, such as today, love is just plain messy.

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Speaking of the latter, as I was thinking today of how unpredictable love is, I got a new Rescue baby this morning into our Baby Rescue Program at Danita’s Children. He came with his homeless mother – a kilo lighter than when I saw him last week (not to mention every rib in his cage showing) which puts him below a severely malnourished category – so it’s an understatement to say that I was excited to start the process.

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It was as I was force feeding him Medika Mamba (it takes a day or two to be considered enjoyable… you would think starving children wouldn’t be so picky), covering his dry, blistered, and bleeding lips with vasoline, talking with his homeless mother about the importance of clean water (and filling her only source – an orange water jug), and praying over his tiny malnourished body as he hit my hands away and bit me a lot, that my frustrated self came to realize: this is love.

As much as this tiny baby hates me in this moment, this is love. It may not be as tender and sweet as many would describe, but this is as real as it gets. Literal messy love.

And, call it ironic, but my heart is honored to love this way. To have the angry little screams and frowny eyebrows as I forced medicine and Medika Mamba into his mouth and to get the glove on my hand bitten by tiny little teeth with all the tiny little strength his 12 lbs. can muster. Truth be told, it makes me smile to see him fighting back – because it it those tenacious and tiny little fighters who survive.

Love doesn’t always appear with hearts and butterflies, and sometimes it isn’t even love at all – only the imitation – but today, love came in the form of force feeding, loads of prayers, and hopes for the promises of the future.

Please continue to prayer for baby Bergly in his recovery, all of our children, and everyone at Danita’s Children. I know I do not only speak for myself when I say that we are so grateful for this life.

His eye is on the sparrow: Baby Rescue Program

A.K.A. one of the best parts of my week!

Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration because I truly love my life here… bbbuuttt, there aren’t many things better than squeezing the cheeks of some cute little babies while praying that they gained weight!

Valmyr
Valmyr

ISMYLOVE (get it... her name is Ismylove, as in... [she]ismylove. Clever, I know.
ISMYLOVE (get it… her name is Ismylove, as in… [she]ismylove. Clever, I know.
Truth: One of them hates me. His name is Vena and this is his second go around in this program. The first time he was with us he was the most finicky child I’ve ever seen. Only wanted to drink out of a red solo cup. After that was used for a bath one day, he would have nothing to do with is. For weeks he was so sweet and tender, laying in my lap all day while I worked… then he mustered up enough energy and this is what he looked like at most times:

IMG_0019     IMG_0020      IMG_0021

We just re-enrolled him into the program… and he still is pretty ticked off with life. He is three years old now and has regressed back into the extremely malnourished bracket. Who knew I could love someone so much who cries if I even look at him for too long.

Isabella - she fell off of a table as a newborn and has a skull fracture. Living miracle!
Isabella – she fell off of a table as a newborn and has a skull fracture. Living miracle!

I am grateful to walk this journey with these little guys and celebrate as they recover using the Medika Mamba, peanut butter based baby food. Pray with us for each of them (Vena, Valmyr, Ismylove, Junior, and Isabella) and I will keep you updated along the way.

God is love. Pass it on.

 

Thoughts For The Night: Capacities of Unknown Love

“It’s your unlimited power to care and to love that can

make the biggest difference in the quality of your life.” – Anthony Robbins

There is this reoccurring comment that I always hear when women have babies – that they knew they would love their baby, but they never knew that they would love them like this.

        

I didn’t exactly “get it” until I moved to Haiti and realized that there is something to be said about this love that allows me to love children who are not my own. Not just love them, but feel a way that I didn’t know possible. I never knew that this capacity of love existed within my heart. I didn’t know that I was capable of it.

I find myself burdened deep in my spirit by the things that burden them.

The big things that changed their lives forever and the small things that seem to be changing their lives for a moment (because to them, it’s all that important).

I know what it feels like for someone to love me that way. By choice. And the impact that it had on my life will never be fully known.

Photo by GivenPhotography

And most, I am overwhelmed at the fact that this capacity never finds it’s limit.

Just when I think I’m loving a lot, a little Haitian kid comes crawling into my lap and all is right with the world again. I begin to causally pray and I hurt knowing the things that are hurting them.

This is the love that Christ called “unfailing.”

And it is THIS that I never want to forget.

I am 24 years old, I am not married, and I have no children. But I can confidently tell you that in this moment, as my heart is overwhelmed beyond expression, that I am currently experiencing motherhood.

And it is changing my life.

God Opportunities…

So when I’m running the boys house it’s quite easy to be totally and completely exhausted and totally and completely content and totally and completely going crazy. At the end of the day I’m just praying and hoping and wishing that no one else needs my assistance… which really means that I’m thinking “if one more person says my name”. Karris Hudson lives there and she is basically my hero. It’s a fury of dirty shoe, dirty shirt, dirty face madness as soon as those cuties come plowing up the stairs and through the doors. From there it’s lines of bathing, pjs, devotions like you’ve never experienced, homework, hilarious story times and any excuse not to have to go to sleep. There is usually at least one who is sick, crying or peeing the bed; and the list of things to do after they’re all fast asleep never seems to end – security supplies and locking down the property and ensuring that the older boys in our church aren’t like playing volleyball across the bunk beds and getting everything in earthquake position (because you never know what could happen) and a gazillion other things that I don’t even have energy to discuss.

Although most see these as complaints – or a crazy description that they would never volunteer for – I never end one of these crazy nights feeling anything less than totally grateful and honored to be called “Mami”. And for a side note… I mean, ya know, just for what it’s worth…I will say that I was doing a rather stand up job until Mami Karrisssssss came home with an abundance of snacks and treats and stole my thunder. I mean, it’s cool… It’s okay, I’m not bitter.

So I totally just went on a rabbit trail that isn’t even the point of this story but it is the reason that this story will become two parts. The point, is the moment that caught my heart, and reminded me of the sweet moments of opportunity that I miss when I get so caught up in long list of crazy madness that never stops.

Each night I pray for moments of opportunity. For my time here to be more than just work. To see people as people, with stories and children and histories of suffering that I can barely comprehend. To not become consumed with frustration at the humanity of this culture. For God to be continually uplifted and for our children especially to have an open line of communication about Christ. Shame on me for praying these prayers and seeing these needs and then becoming so consumed with the humdrum of crazy life in Haiti and forgetting to be aware when these opportunities that I continually pray for present themselves.

So for now – here’s to being aware of God opportunities! And the story continues…

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

Leaning Not On My Own Understanding

Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.”

In wonderful memory of the sweet four year-old boy, Witson, who suffered through the last stages of malnutrition and recently passed away.

He was a reminder of why Danita’s Children is eagerly awaiting the opening of our medical center – to prevent simple deaths, such as starvation, due to lack of resources. 

 Sometimes I don’t understand God’s plans, I don’t understand why children suffer or bad things happen, but I trust that His ways are not the same as my own and that  Witson’s time on earth was for a purpose and destiny. Maybe we will see it and maybe it will be something that I ask God in heaven. 

Read his original story – “You Shall Live and Not Die” – pray for his mother as she mourns the loss of her son, and help us to prevent these simple deaths that can so easily be prevented.

Learning to Listen

I was woken up this morning by a brown foot kicking me in the face and two others running in to beg for more Nemo on the laptop. I love these morning. I’m sitting on this Saturday, thinking about life. About sacrifice. About uncertainty of the future and trusting in God’s promises that come from obedience.

I cannot speak to what the future holds, but I do know what God is doing right now. And I am choosing to hold onto to that.

My life… so far… is a story about change, mostly. About the adventures of steering through my twenties learning, loving, forgiving and growing up. Learning to adjust. Learning to dance in the storm. Learning to continuously look for the rainbow. To continuously keep my heart tender toward humanity.

During this chapter, in Haiti, it’s about learning to hear God. Just to listen to the things that He has to say about the world. He was saying all the same things in Florida. But there I just listen differently. Distractions are more apparent.

When you’re in a place where God’s provision is the only resource, His voice seems louder, but really it’s the same steady voice – small and still – and the more I am learning to listen, the more I want to be silent so that I can hear.

I’m learning to see people for people. To look for their story. To find the beauty that Haitians see everyday within their indescribable surroundings. To understand their personalities. Not as just a taxi driver, or hair lady or waitress. But as specific people. Living life. Trying to figure out tomorrow, just like me.

Look around you today and find God in a few areas – His beauty, His grace, His provision. Be grateful for those things and I guarantee you it will make you smile a little bit more. And in the mists of your crazy worlds, stop and listen. You may be shocked at what you hear.

Have a great Saturday, folks! XOXO

One is Enough.

I’m sitting on the floor watching little Alexson sleep. With each inhale I can count every rib in his chest. As I rub my hand up and down his back I can feel the bones in his shoulders protruding out. He has lived with us for a few weeks and looks better than he has probably his whole life. He is almost eight years old and weighs 28 pounds. When he came was so pale that Haitians questioned if he was American.

 

Watching him I am amazed at the children who God have brought through these gates.

Some have a bright hope for a future today because of Danita’s dream.

And others don’t make it.

Some were here for a few months. Some a few days.

It’s unrealistic to say that poverty in Haiti is changeable in a short period of time, or without an unchanging God.

Some people ask, “What’s the point?” 

It’s offensive to hear, actually.

I’m not trying to say that we are solving the problem.

But I can tell you the point.

The point is that no child, or human for that matter, deserves to eat out of a trashcan. No child deserves to be left dying alone. The point is that we may not be able to love every child in Haiti, but we can love the ones who are put in front of us.

Even if it was just one – that’s enough.

Hundreds of kids who would never have had the love elsewhere. Never have had the opportunity elsewhere.

Whether for a day or a month or forever, God put them in our path so that they would be in loving arms. Instead of a street or a trash can He has honored us with the opportunity of loving His children, no matter the circumstances or length of their stay on earth.

Even if they come to us and then die hours later, God saw them valuable enough to die loved and comforted and in the arms of His children.

Just Saying.

Watching Love Change Lives.

I’m sitting with a 6 year old girl in my lap. Mideline. Every time she sees me she latches on to my hand and doesn’t let go until I leave. Whenever I look down at her, she looks at me with the best smile. A few months ago she was found raising herself and her little brother in the forest, literally, after running away from a step mother who would burn them with hot irons, and I wonder if she has every been cuddled in her life. I constantly wonder what kinds of things she encountered, people who she ran into/survived and situations that God saved her from. She doesn’t talk much, but when she down her words are a high pitched Creole-ish language of it’s own. Her brother is the same way. Like they have their own made up communication between the two. We call it chipmunk, but they get it.

We give our children such little credit. They are so much stronger then we allow them to be, but at the end of the day they are children and we don’t realize how much they need, want and desire our attention and affirmation.

I guarantee, like so many Haitian children, that Mideline has never been able to be a child a day in her life. She loves calling the girls “Mami” and it is so obvious that she feels so secure within the walls of Danita’s Children. It’s just another one of those things that amazes me here.

I love seeing her love the love that she receives.

It doesn’t take much. Just love. Encouragement. It truly changes peoples lives.

Try it sometime.

That’s all, just a short thought while I’m working.

Internet has been crazy here so I haven’t been able to post much, but I am writing a lot and will have it all up as soon as I can.

Life Is Good.

If I Had A Nickel For Every Time I Felt Grateful…

One of life’s biggest questions isn’t if you will accomplish your dreams, it’s are you willing to pay the price to get there?

 

An insert from my journal

(about two weeks in.. my prayer is that I will never forget this feeling):

My heart is so stirred this morning, with gratitude and with excitement. I was asked to pray around the breakfast table this morning and I couldn’t get anything out except for how grateful I am. I say it all the time, but I was literally so overwhelmed with emotion that sometimes I cannot find the words.

After a conversation with one of the missionaries this morning I am feeling so grateful to watch God’s faithfulness. I know that He is and I know that He remains constant, but it always moves me when I am able to watch it unfold.

 It seems that every time I prepare to travel with a purpose that my thoughts begin to be flooded with distractions. However, this morning I am feeling like God is saying, “you win”. That this is, this very moment, is the fruit of my labor. That all the of the seasons of humility and testing and silence that I couldn’t see the purpose in were for just that. To trust in the process without yet knowing the purpose. And on the other end of the fire is this great life that is so full of purpose, I don’t feel like I deserve to get to be the one to live it sometimes.

So overwhelmed with gratitude this evening,

Hope