Back On The Saddle & Always Grateful

Thank God the process of getting from America to Haiti is over and I am officially back to work at Danita’s Children! Nothing exciting to report this time around (which is a good things!) just the usual airport, airport, airport, hotel, transport home. My time in Florida was wonderful as expected and it is never fun to leave Free Life Chapel. It is truly an amazing house of worship and family to the community in Lakeland.

Someone said to me while I was there, “You know it’s good for you to come back so that you don’t remember it in your head as more than what it is.”

No.

I went back.

… and it is just as good as I remember it to be.

Thank you to everyone who made my time at home so so great! To my pastors and Caleb – as much as I tell you that you bless me – it is so much more than that! Thank you for providing for me so much more than just a place to stay – I couldn’t love you more!

Thank you to everyone who is so supportive in prayer as I continue this journey, and a special thank you the few who have joined with me finically – you make it possible for me to be here and I am so grateful for you!!

Lots of things happening since I left – our medical center is looking AMAZINGand is closer and closer to it’s opening – and I am so grateful to be a part of the team at Danita’s Children. Thank you for helping us fulfill the Great Commission as we rescue, care and love for orphaned children in Haiti! It takes everyone’s special part to make it happen!

God is so great, graceful and truly provides everything that I need!

Blessings From Haiti,

Hope

My “One of Those Days” Pep-Talk

Matthew 6:23, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all things will be given to you as well.” … SO STOP WHINING. (my translation)

I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s packing and anxiety of traveling and passport checking and not wanting to get on that 3 hour bus ride. Maybe it’s because life is unpredictable and scary and following a path less traveled isn’t always glamorous and I don’t always feel like being courageous and making a deliberate decision to continue anyways. Life doesn’t just happen. It doesn’t just fall into place. It takes deciding to keep going every time that it would be easier to not.

I’m reminding myself today that God’s arm is not too short. He can reach me right where I am. And, for what it’s worth, the God who placed every star in the sky doesn’t need my help in coordinating the plans that He created before I was ever born. This is how He builds faith in us – testing and watching us follow through. Or not follow through. So, to myself, stop trying to control a life that has already been set into motion. Not for me, but for God to be glorified. Just live with a willing heart and allow Him to make your way straight.

I literally just gave myself that pep-talk, while I wrote it and had a little pity party, and then re-read it and cheered myself on!

No joke. I’m so weird. Now I’m gonna go get on an exhausting 3 hour bus right and begin the process of getting to Florida!

Cheers to a hot shower and good water pressure in about 5 hours!!

XOXO,

Hope

Reminding Myself – Read and Repeat.

I don’t know how to share. It’s easy to impart and pour in – when the hurting is not coming from within.

But it is from within and I can’t quite comprehend why this is so hard and why my journey is never soft to the touch .

Why the questions that are being asked of me are so extreme and why the answers take so much. Why the sacrifice to grow, to be more, to expect great is always screaming and why I continue to desire to choose to turn the volume up.

During this time I don’t know how to share. I don’t know how to write. I don’t know how to poeticly form lines and rhymes and stories to flow from my cup. Within me feels pain and anguish and hurt. I feel selfish and deserting. I feel like the Ruth inside of me is betraying her loyalty.

But I know that it is right.

I know because I have prayed for this. I have prayed that this would come to pass. As soon as I saw a glimpse of it I ran so fast.

I refused, I regretted, because the roots that I have planted are so comforting, so warm, so true and so rewarding. I’m comfortable in my place. I know my lane. And have found what makes me shine.

So to my Father, to my Father who has known me before I was birthed into this earth. To the One who I’ve never had to question, assume or raise a second guess. My heart is content with you. You know me, my fears, and each very tiny insecurity and concern that is inside of me. You are the greatest love story ever told, the greatest story ever known, and I am privileged to play opposite you. To even be in the supporting cast. Even if it makes me the damsel in distress instead of the heroin that I wish I could be.

Just know that I am scared.

Tears on my pillow betray my strength.

The decision before me is one that confuses me, has my head and my heart spewing two different lines. It’s a gamble and a bet. Unknown, risky and without convenient, safe or reserved seating. However, it is not what awaits in Haiti that frightens me, but it is what I am leaving and what possibly will not be.

 Right now all that I am asking of you is that if I step away from the things that I know. If I walk away from the people who have aided my healing and provided a safe place for my pain, celebrated my growth and gave segway to “church” as more than a name. If I go through with this time away from those who have become family and forever important, that You will hold steady the distance between us and provide grace in the mean time. And in the latter of this adventure, what remains is strength and honor.

However, whatever the outcome, whatever the trial, wherever the journey – I will remain knowing that your plan is true and real. You are sovereign and still reigning over this earth that You created in the vast cosmos of eternity.

Even if the relationships that are deepest and closest to my heart find another bonding place, I will continue to meditate that You are forever my judge and I long to forever be your witness. My only prayer is that I am always found on a mission about my Father’s business.

Whatever that looks like, wherever that is. Beyond whoever understands, is confused or could care less. I pray that you keep my mind on this path, this very narrow bind that is embedded into my heart. The one that pulls me here and pushes me there.

 But I thank you before I even know it or feel it that on this journey you have lit, you have put in me peace and contentment in a way that as uncomfortable it is, as wrong as it feels, as selfish as I seem, it is a fit. It is a fit because I know the Word that you have put in me, I know the desires that my soul longs to be.

And on the other side I know the reward that you have waiting for me. On the other side of prayer, of obedience, of fear, of sacrifice. Just to see if I will.

 But I want you to know, that even if my steps seem shaky, inconsistent and quietly plotting our escape any minute, know that my heart is willing. I want all that You have for me, in the abundance and essence that You want to give me. I want Your word to be tatted all over me.

And before this one is even over, let me just say… if it isn’t how I want or not how I planned, if You’re ready for another move, another test or another trial – I will be waiting. Still willing. Knowing all that You are according to who You have always been.

Selah.

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.

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!

 

His Little Feet

I did not want them to leave. I don’t even know how long i’ve been waiting for this weekend, and like that *snaps* it’s over. Outback will be sponsoring lunches for the kids and they each have host homes. I am so sad the I couldn’t keep anyone with me, but my little apartment is just too small. My heart feels so grateful to be such a close part of Free Life Chapel.

I met with the team this afternoon before everyone arrived at the park to set-up and get things organized for Italian Ice deliveries, etc.. My heart is so over-joyed this morning at the opportunity to share this weekend with Danita and her kids.

Funny side-note: We’re all so excited for the kids and when we entered the park there were a couple of children who looked a little “wander-y” so Marisol approached them and asked, “Are you with His Little Feet? It’s ok guys, you can go over there and play…” and the little boy looked at her – just like an American little boy would do – and replied, “I DON’T HAVE LITTLE FEET!” and ran away to play, away from the crazy lady.

On that note, the two of us began our trek to Bartow to get the icees, a variety of Peach, Mango and Watermelon, which we didn’t think through very well because all of these kids are islanders and they all looked at us l like we were crazy when we said the flavor peach. Everyone wanted mango (obviously) and they were just confused by the others. It’s so fun to work with Marisol, almost always the highlight of the particular day. Marisol is so humble and spicy. I can relate to the combination of the two and I love to watch her take on ministry and how to handle it. We stuck the styro foam cooler of icees behind my seat, which we then had to push all the way forward and laughed the whole way back at how awkward I looked driving all smooshed toward the front.

The host families are all excited and I cannot wait to hang out with all the kids. Initially, they were so shy until I mentioned to Jefferson that I know Mami Brittney, and like a chain reaction eyes lit up and such a drastically confused expression came across their faces – priceless! “YOU know Mami Bootney?” I had to make believers out of them so I flipped open the handy dandy iPad and showed them a photo of her and I and they were all so excited to see her face. They are all set that we are sisters because “same eye. same hair. yep, sisters.” You can tell that they miss her very much. I took them to Facebook and we wrote on her wall, which was the highlight of Jeff’s day. I quickly learned that those quiet and shy little kids are definitely kids none the less!!

110%

Knowing Mami Bootney was apparently the ticket to break the ice because I got major cool points, and after that they were all so sweet and so excited. I was glad that they felt like they were amongst family this weekend. Jefferson and Moise stayed with Chase and Shannon and intense games of pool and Rory-fetch-games were played all night long, plus Jefferson taught me how to “blow it up, bring it back and slide” (it’s a handshake – I could teach you, but then I’d have to kill you). Later that night, the boys went to play laser tag – the next day I asked them about it and, they didn’t remember Chase’s name, what it was called, or who won, but they did know that it was so fun and had big guns to play with!

Sunday 7AM: I am in what will be the dressing room for His Litle Feet, waiting on the kids to arrive. I had an interesting conversation with Chrysta (HLF director) about missions and expectations and God’s word. I was such confirmation and comfort when my heart has been in such a place of transition.

Johnson is the first to arrive and he is the youngest of the group, and the sweetest 7-year-old. He keeps telling me a phrase in Creole and for the longest time I had no clue what he was saying. Then finally his room mate tells me, “He keeps saying you’re pretty.” My heart melted then and there and little Johnson was looking so shocked that his friend ratted him out. I knew that little Johnson and I would get along great today.

Johnson - the little guy in the front.

It’s amazing to me as the kids get dressed and prepared for worship, how the older girls mother the younger kids. Loudridge and Francia help everyone get dressed, hair fixed, cream on their legs, etc. They’re such sweet girls, purposely unattached, but it is apparent that there is so much in their spirits to offer. All the kids filed in for sound check and as soon as the worship team began their sound check all eyes were locked to the stage. They love singing and worshiping. Little Johnson came to stand next to me and laced our fingers together and looked up with a big toothy grin on his face as he watched, mesmerized by John and the team worship.

Their performance was so great! Everyone was so blessed by these kids and the fact that they were Danita’s was the icing. While they performed they were still such kids. I love how kids are kids universally. Some had attitudes, other were bouncing even when they were still, the little guys were nervous and the older girls were so confident and a sense of security for the younger kids. You could see them all as they performed, occasionally glance over to see if Mami Danita was watching them. I so admire what Danita has given these kids and how they look at her just like a mom that they don’t have. She is so fulfilling scripture and I hope to do the same soon as well.

Being the intern, it was my job to secure lunch. So I wasn’t able to stay for service, but no way I left before they performed. Got there in just enough time to get to Outback and pack up 23 lunches – chicken fingers and sandwiches – and get back before they all got grumpy.

I returned right as they were all getting restless from taking photos in the lobby and returning to their room to change aka to play for a bit. The girls stripped off all my jewelry and played with my car keys and took pictures with my phone. Everyone started goodbyes and my heart was immediately heavy, but excited because I knew that I would get to see them again soon. Little Johnson came over and I leaned down and he said with the biggest, most shy grin, “I love you”. I talked with the older girls and said goodbye to Jeff, who was still trying to unlock my car with the sensor thing through the walls, and walked out with them to deliver lunch on the bus.

Bitter-sweet, but one of the greatest weekends since we became Free Life Chapel on January 1.

*photos were lost in a “texting malfunction” so the photos here are courtesy of Karris Hudson’s Facebook page. 🙂