Life is Hard. God is Love.

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My day started off praying to God about my life in another part of this world, on behalf of uncertain and undesirable situations that are uncontrolled by everyone involved. My day continued praying to God about the uncertain and undesirable situations in my grasp right now, today.

My consistent prayer: to provide peace, enlightenment and rest to my family and to those in this life who hold no control.

My consistent thought: life is hard

It’s hard no matter where you live. It’s hard no matter what your name is or what your list of assets look like. It’s hard for me with the uncertainties of learning God’s character and walking the uncertainties of this life in faith, as it is hard for the man sitting in a corner office feeling like there is nothing to live for, to the homeless woman who brings her baby each day, who sleeps on the streets of Haiti each night, her life containing three children and an orange water jug.

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I can’t image what this hard life would look like without anchoring to something bigger than myself. Without the certainty that comes from my God, who encompasses all love, reminding me that I hold a hope in Him that would anchor my soul. Because within these hard days sometimes that’s all there is to hang on to.

Hang on and remember:

that He is working on our behalf.

That God is love.

And

that this too shall pass.

Simply Presented With Hope: 13 Boys Update

It was in this month, one year ago, that 13 little boys walked into our lives at Danita’s Children, and changed the atmosphere as we knew it.

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I remember that day like it was yesterday [read about it here]: the overwhelming feeling of sympathy, the literal sickness in their eyes, and the even worse sickness that was apparent in their broken little souls. That first night was one that I will never forget, and the weeks that followed were spent learning a lot of “firsts”. First time in using a toilet, first time doing nightly devotions, first time eating THREE times in one day, first time getting new clothes/shoes, and many other first that I will pull out as embarrassing memories when their 14.

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That group instantly attached themselves in our hearts and the atmosphere was filled with the presence of little ones again. I can’t imagine my life in Haiti without this precious group of boys, even more so, it overwhelms me to think about what their lives would be like if they would have never been driven onto our property in shocking surprise that day. They keep me laughing, that’s for sure!

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Today, they are all enrolled in school, learning to ride bikes and love going to church and singing worship songs. Some will still find their way to me during the day just to say “thank you” for something they received long ago – even just a meal or a small treat. Yesterday, Wes came up and stated in clear English: “Are you going out today?” I naturally replied back, “no, I’m staying here…” until I realized what was happening. He was full of pride with himself that he is learning English now.

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They truly are a testament to how quickly a life in changed when it is simply presented with hope. Their future is bright and they are all blazing ahead. I have spend so many moments this month thinking of these boys, and what that day was like when they plopped themselves right into the center of my heart.

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Room For One More

 I am looking at this group of 13 boys and my heart is breaking. I am reminded that I recently asked God to show me his heart in Haiti.

As an answer to my prayer He showed me his hurt,

which came in the form of two UN trucks and a van full of orphaned children. Their cheeks were stained with tears and they were all naked. Onto our property filed the Mayor, the Judge, the national social worker and a variety of security detail, UN guards, etc…

They shut down an orphanage in our village and with nowhere else to go they brought the children to our door in hopes of giving them a new home. These children were taken off of the street to be cared for, which clearly never happened, and as I peered into the van windows they were terrified and crying.

I can’t imagine what their day was like. And it was only lunch time.

The boys filed out, each one of them naked, one boy putting the neck of a t-shirt around his waste to create a skirt. Their faces were scared and their bellies large and expanded. They followed along, kind of confused, prolly a little embarrassed, and were slightly skiddish in the room full of missionaries and national officials, just watching. Naked. I wonder if they were ashamed? Sad? Just plain hungry? All I could do was hold them in my lap and tell them it’s okay now. It didn’t matter that they were naked, would prolly pee on me and clearly have infections all over their eyes. I couldn’t hug them enough. I knelt down next to one little boy and asked him, “How are you?” He put his head down with tears in his eyes and quietly whispered, “I don’t know.”

                 

When asked if they wanted to bathe they all eagerly agreed, even more than they wanted to eat. Who knows how long it’s been since they have had a bath, a toothbrush, a bed. As my heart is breaking, but I’m grateful that they’re here. I’m grateful that I will get to rock them to sleep tonight. I’m grateful that they are safe, clean, with full bellies and each will sleep soundly in a bed. I hope that they fall asleep feeling like this is a new beginning. A good beginning. And wake up feeling like they’re loved.

                                  

Learning how to pray.

Our sisters can scrub a kid down with the best of them, so first up with baths. Next was dinner. I don’t think they understand yet that this will happen THREE times EVERY day. Our kids trust that we will provide for them, but you can always tell the new guys from the bunch – they eat like they truly don’t know where their next meal will come from.

What made my heart overwhelmed most was how our boys took them in. They introduced themselves, took them by the hand and led them toward the playground. They prayed for them during devotions (And when I say prayed during devotions, our kids don’t play. They pa-ray). In Haiti, prayer is not a sweet notion. It is a real conversation with a real God. And even as young children, they get that.

One boy, sweet Moise, asked me, “Can they stay here for a long time so that they can go to school like we get to?” During Friday movie time I saw two let the new boys sit in their laps so the new boys could see better, and then when their legs got tired they gave up their prime viewing position so the new boys would remain comfortable and stood in the back. When it was time to get into bed they led the confused ones to an empty bed and got them a blanket before claiming a bed for themselves.

It is those moments that my heart of a mother beats – to watch the children that we brought in the exact same way and raise each day to be grateful and considerate and God conscious –  to then identify insecure, identify pain, and walk out everything we hope that they take away from life – when no one is watching – to ensure another child’s wellbeing.

Sigh… things that make you cry.

I ended my night rocking 13 little boys to sleep. Best part of the day for sure. Everytime I took one into my lap he immediately cuddled in and crashed. I know their day had to be so crazy. They all said they were tired and I know that it has been a long while since they have been rocked, cuddled, anything but laid on the ground for bedtime. As they fell asleep I sang to them and prayed over their little broken spirits. I’m choosing to see a hopeful future in them. What they are going to be. What their future now holds. Their countenance has already changed so much in only a few hours.

 

As I write this I am sitting in our office winding down. The kids are asleep, counted, double counted and prayed for. I love that time of the day. Our boys are so sweet when they’re getting sleepy. It’s late, but I’m not ready for bed. I’ll regret that tomorrow. I keep wondering about these boys and what they must be thinking about right about now.

In the midsts of all the growing and construction and work that goes into making each day a success at Danita’s Children, we were reminded today – that there is always room for one more.

  

I’m grateful for the reminder and grateful that I am able to be a part of their story. Also so grateful that Danita followed God’s call to her. It gives me such reassurance in the fulfillment of God’s promises – even when they seem crazy.

And on a day like today, you see the fruit of it. When 13 little boys file out of a beat up van and never look back.

I am going to sleep feeling ready for bed, but so content.

Here’s to purpose – Cheers & Goodnight!

P.S. Sidenote – we now have 13 little boys who desperately need sponsors so they can begin school, etc… please share with your friends and family and help us change these boys future!

Music = Ear Candy for the Blind.

Can you imagine being blind? How about being blind in Haiti? How about being blind, having three children – two of them who are blind, and depending on your four year-old daughter to lead anywhere you need to go? Yep. True story. Now tell me how hard your life was today?

Two of the kids came into school on the first day, one is bind and the other is four and the dependent of the family. She has never just been a kid a day in her life, always making stuff happen and keeping her family out of harms way. That first day her mom, Julie, who is blind also, was late coming to pick them up, and little four year-old, 3 feet tall, Nouvley said behind her (in Creole) as she is running toward the property gate, without a drop of fear in her voice, “Mom’s not coming, Juvensky, you sit here and I’ll go call a taxi.”

About 45 seconds later to be seen walking back with her face in her hands and our security guard leading her toward us. It was her first day of Kindergarten so she couldn’t understand why she wasn’t allowed to just make stuff happen like she days every other day. Structure is a foreign concept in Haiti. My kind of girl though – find problems and fix them – no questions asked. One of our missionaries said that whenever she took the two children to the road to get a taxi (motorcycle) and take them home that she marched right up to the street and yelled for a taxi to “come and stop right here!” Then she proceeded to to tell the driver that her brother needed to sit in the middle because he can’t see and then she would sit behind him because she is little and Mami Heather would sit in back to keep them safe.

Watching Juvensky makes me smile. His spirit is so sensitive. To watch his heightened senses, when he sees a shadow, hears the slightest sound, or begins to inch his way on his hands and knees to cautiously approach a toy that has rolled away, in case of harm close by. I told him my name one time and anytime he heard me after that he would find my voice and say, “Mami Hope”. I wonder what I look like in his mind. Am I Haitian? Do he even know what Haitian looks like?

One day I watched him feel around everything that he came into contact with to reveals it’s identity – the storybook with plastic lady bugs on it, when he felt my wrists and looked alarmed at what could possibly be surrounding them (bracelets) and when he found a large pilates ball that he could push in front of him to ensure his navigation. I pulled out my phone and turned on my favorite playlist. It was as if the entire world stopped around him. He recognized music immediately due to his heightened senses. He didn’t know the words or the tune, but he had connected with something. It was touch and go for a minute because he sees with his hands and that isn’t exactly good for a touch screen phone 🙂 – it was going on and off and every which way. I smiled watching him light up and was reminded of not only what people don’t have in Haiti, but how people who already have a disability make due in a world with no resources. I don’t know if he has ever even been able to hold a speaker up to his ear before.

 

Today I pulled out the big guns. My laptop. I turned on Kari Jobe. Her album cover is so bright and on the laptop he can put his eyes real close to the screen and see the bright shadows and listen to her voice. His smile is priceless, as if I made the world was alright for him again by providing something as simple as music.

Kari, if for some reason you ever read this please know that your music is changing lives. Literally. I let Jvensky’s mom (who is also blind) listen to your album via my cell phone and she was just overjoyed to have worship in her heart. Thank You – your album is amazing.

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.

The Love Of Christ and Decisions and Such.

I am adjusting to life in Haiti, but still in that grace window where if I’m going to cop out it needs to be now. Trust me, I have asked myself a couple times if we wanna run away yet; and when I say we, I mean myself and my subconscious. We have had quite the discussions these past few weeks, to say the least.

I don’t question myself due to life in Haiti being hard, but because I left a life that I loved. In light of heartache and home ache and border crossings and super energized kids on Christmas vacation, I was having “a moment”. God always seems to always meet me at my “moments” just to reassure my heart, and prolly a little bit to give me a reason to not pout.

Nevertheless, this morning was a great discussion and reflection on Christs’ compelling love and how that love will in turn cause us to react as a result. I knew that the decision to come here was right, but that doesn’t mean that it would be easy. I wasn’t expecting easy, but I also wasn’t expecting such heartache. Such perfect timing of God meeting me at “my moment” to remind me why I made the decision in the first place.

The reflection is here.

Great Things To Come!

I can’t wait to show y’all what is to come! In leau of this I had to post a couple of fun photos.

This is baby Ronaldo. Brittany, who is in this photo, rescues severely malnourished children from the village and puts them on a nutrition plan and monitors their growth until they are big enough to eat on their own. The ‘before and after’ of the two babies who has successfully does this is AMAZING. She is an amazing person and because most kids in Haiti don’t see their fifth birthday, she is truly making a difference in this country!

Okay, I was gonna post some more but I have to go cross the border now to get to the kiddos. More to come!

Adios and God Bless this fabulous Wednesday morning!

XOXO

Reaching Out.

I am sickened by the perception of our culture (myself included) that people harbor different emotions because they live with different circumstances. As if they don’t care as much or process as long or hurt as deep.

I am sitting in church, watching families, who get to church with their clothes sticking to their skin because they have walked so long in the sun, and they’re still on time. When they pray it is not because it’s ‘right’, but because it is out of the great anguish in their hearts, and to the truly only option of refuge that they know as “Jezi”.

Have you ever seen a grown man cry? Well it looks the same in Haiti.

One of the teachers at Hope for Haiti was robbed and beaten last week.

The community was shocked because he was drug out of his home, in front of his children, kidnapped, beaten and dropped off on the road.

Two days later he died of internal bleeding.

I watched as Pastor Richard choked back his tears, fidgeted with his keys and paused to try and find the words, delivering the news to Mami Karris that this teacher, his friend, this role model in the village has passed away. He has two young children who attend the school as well and my heart and prayers are going out to this man’s family tonight, who are now forced to learn a life without their dad and their husband.

The community here is without words, no one expected it, the students would even stop by the hospital to see him on their walk home from school. All reactions that are no different than it would be at home, and I am longing for the perception of people to become more clear across cultural lines. That we would see across racial and economic status and look at the hurting heart of people. A heart that will always be hurting as long as a void exists and one that will always be tender, through experience or reaction, as we reach out to one another.

P.S. Speaking of reaching out, I want to throw a HUGE shout-out to Angie Webb (also known as, “Angie from work”… she has worked with my Dad for forever) who reached out with great generosity, simply from the compassion in her heart. Thank You – it means more than you know!