the time is now…..

 

The past few days have brought this strange numbness….like I don’t fit wherever I am.  Partially because I never do but it seems more intense lately. Finally I was reminded yesterday that I am in the “between first and third world” transition phase as I am leaving for Haiti in a few days. One would think I would sense when this is coming on because I have been doing this for almost 10 years but it always seems to creep up on me.

I was unloading the dishwasher and my RaceTrac cup caught my eye. I literally looked at it and said in my head, “I will miss you, RaceTrac cup.” WTH???  As I prepare to leave I subconsciously say good bye to ice and air conditioning and it takes me a little while to wean myself from all the conveniences. I am human too. I am not beyond getting my panties in a  wad when I have to clean out my bowl in the bunkhouse in Haiti with a paper towel and hand sanitizer for the hundredth time because water is too important to waste on such things.  I don’t count the days to no shower,  sweat to the point I carry a washcloth with me so my glasses don’t slide down my nose (don’t judge), and sliding on muddy rocks in a long skirt and cursing my “hiking boots” because they aren’t doing a dang thing for me in the middle of a downpour on top of a slippery foot path.  Crackers and canned chicken are not my faves (although Chick-fil-A sauce does wonders for most foods) and I also miss my comfortable car, legitimate roads, and my washing machine. But not enough to stay home. Never enough to stay home.

We are a society of comfort and conveniences. We thrive off quick and easy. But what about the rest of the world? The world where clean water is nonexistent and a pair of shoes is a luxury.

 

I know when we started to go to Haiti there was this lingering question in the minds of the people in the village which was very simple…..”WHY would she leave her comfort to come here?”  At first I had to figure that question out for myself. I wanted to be there for the right reasons and a motivation that is not centered around some philanthropic do-gooder mentality.  And here is my conclusion…..I go because I am called. We are ALL called to somewhere other than our own families and our own little circles. The other reason is a bit selfish but it is because the people in Haiti have something extraordinary that I lack and I just want to be around them because  of it.

Constantly people say to me, “We forget how blessed we are in America” and I always have this uneasy feeling like there was something inherently wrong with that statement. Yes we have drive thrus and electricity. We have faucets and milk in the fridge. But we also have meth and porn. We live very isolated lives from those around us because we need to keep up with the materialistic world we live in. We have free schools yet  most don’t appreciate them anyway. We have a lot of stuff but we remain unsettled most of the time because there is always something more to be attained or accomplished. We know a lot of people but often feel disconnected because of our busyness and  our own selfishness.

And then there is entitlement.  The feeling so many have that the government owes them something. Government assistance should lead to gratitude and humility but most of the time it only breeds dependence and arrogance.  Something needs to change here is the USA. We are not as “blessed” as we want to think we are. There is a huge need for change in our country.  Addiction, crime and sexual exploitation are taking over and most of us don’t even know it is happening.

Being “blessed” to me is doing life with people I love who have learned the value of hard work under the worst conditions. It means spending time together under an avocado tree talking about education and the need for rain so the crops will grow. It means watching children come to school after a 2 hour walk with no mud on their shoes and no victim mentality in their step.  Those are the moments that most bless me. I can deal with frizzy hair and unending mud all day long to get a piece of that.

What keeps us from answering the call? Fear. Comfort. Denial.

The time is now. We have so many opportunities all around us to be avenues of change but it does not happen in our sheltered little worlds and our consumer driven families.  It happens when we put the conveniences aside and embrace the uncomfortable…..what is gained is always greater in those times than what is lost. Relationships win over Netflix and Keurigs.

We were created to be in community. And not our mono ethnic cliques or hobby driven circles.  But the kind of community that stretches us. Makes us wrestle with our prejudices and our self seeking motives. Doing life with people who don’t make us look good to other people and who won’t feed into our egos.

Go answer the call.  Give til you have nothing left. You will come alive.

 

Journal Entries from Haiti

I have been back from Haiti for 5 days and still have not acclimated to my American life. For some ridiculous reason, I think every time I return that  this will be the trip where it is easier…..but then I have to ask myself the hard questions. If it gets easy, then doesn’t that mean that I have grown numb or uncaring about  poverty, lack of clean water, and the scarcity of free education in Haiti? Doesn’t it mean that I have sold out to the lie as long as I am comfortable I can forget the children with nothing to eat and whose parents are dying of easily cured diseases? I truly believe it can never be a smooth transition….and if it comes to the point that it is not a struggle, the people of Haiti need someone different. Someone who cares enough to come back to the US disillusioned by the excess and the waste of the American culture and the lack of opportunities that exists in Haiti.

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For the first time, I had the opportunity to journal the whole time I was in Haiti. The journal is called  “The Essential Writer’s Notebook” and it has a guide for writing. The portion at the beginning encouraged me to write my “first thoughts.” Not the cleaned up, well-put ones but the ones that come straight from the heart….and here are some pieces of those entries.

Day One

I am headed to Haiti. I miss the smells- open fires with beans and rice cooking. The sights- raw beauty and uncensored reality. The sounds- horns honking in the city and the noise fading farther and farther away the higher we climb the mountain.

Every time I board the plane to leave the US I know I am headed for my destiny.

My calling.

My paradise of purpose.

In the hotel last night we told a lady we were going to Haiti and she asked if we were going snorkeling. The man at the front desk asked if we were going on a cruise. I wanted to sit them both down and tell them from my soul how our trip would be so much more rich and beautiful and tender and true than a ship with lots of food and excursions. I felt that they were being robbed of valuable information by me  not telling them. If only they knew the people! The countryside! As I started to explode with what I wanted to tell them, I kept walking. Maybe they don’t want to know but I felt selfish keeping it to myself.

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Day Two 7:30 am

I sit and watch people walking by constantly carrying everything they have to make a living. A bag of eggs. A bundle of green onions. And I see two things- desperation and peace. How can they exist simultaneously? One exists because of the other? Or the desperation becomes so overwhelming that peace must enter in or there is no hope? I am not sure but their eyes are unsettling. As I sit and think that I MUST be the world’s greatest philanthropist, I am struck immediately with…..this is their life- every minute of every day. And I enter in at a week or two at a time. I don’t know their suffering. Or their struggles to feed their children everyday.  Or the disappointment of the students who graduate from our school in the sixth grade and cannot afford secondary school in the city. Those students who are now working on the farm look at me with such longing to sit in a desk and learn that I become overwhelmed. Burdened. Desperate for answers. My mind begins to reel and then it just becomes a weight I cannot shake.

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Day Three

Today we are headed to the market. I love going there! It is where I get to see friends and meet new ones. It is where I was told that the Haitians call me “good mama” and was the defining moment when I realized that I am exactly where I am supposed to be…but then there is the other side of reality- sometimes I wonder if I can keep doing this work as hard as it. And as I begin to unravel all the reasons why this work is draining and exhausting, I see a smiling face underneath a load of carrots or a uniformed student learning to read and I know this is my calling.

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Day Four

Today we leave to go down the mountain. It is bittersweet. I see in their eyes two things- I appreciate you coming and are you going to leave me here? It is hard and beautiful. Sad and encouraging. Tiring and invigorating. Maddening and settling. My mind feels like chaos and peace. Chaos for what is left to do and peace for what we have already done.

What do the Haitians think when we leave? That we have abandoned them? Do they wonder if we will come back? If we are just part time friends? Or do they know we have given our hearts to them?

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Day Five

Sitting in the airport waiting to go home. Tears are welled up in my eyes. I feel broken. Lost between two worlds. I am leaving so much work unfinished. It is like walking away in the middle of a conversation and wondering how you could have ever aborted the discussion in the midst of something important. In these moments I am not comforted by what we have already accomplished because in this moment they do not cure disease or enroll students in secondary school. Those problems still exist and I go home to the comfort of my home, my over-indulged pets, full pantry, and easy life. Life in the US will never be as difficult as it is in Haiti.

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Truths I lave learned to rely on:

Stay true to the calling.

Never stop telling people about the desperate, beautiful people of Haiti.

A comfortable life is not one well-lived. A sacrificial life will leave a mark.

I must be motivated by purpose.

Many entries were left out of this blog because they were too raw and too honest. I would be glad to share them if anyone is interested.

The Struggle is Real….

 

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Every time I return from Haiti, it is a struggle. Leaving a village that has no running water or electricity, parents struggling to provide one meal a day for their children,  and dear friends of mine fighting for their lives as disease slowly takes over without the means to see a doctor weighs heavily on me as I board the plane to come home.  Much of the time, the U.S. does not even feel like home. I spend so much of my time here in the States feeling like an outsider. Like I just don’t fit. As if I was created for something different.  Often loneliness sets in. Other times I withdraw- not meaning to- and stop answering my phone because I am stuck in the world of in-between. In-between my life here and my life there.

The struggle is very, very real.

I  got back last Monday and had lunch on Wednesday with one of my closest friends, who happens to be a therapist. She texted me days later and asked if I was ok and said that she was worried about me. It was  then I knew I was not adjusting back to my American existence as well as I thought I was.

This trip was the hardest transition so far- out of at least the 20 times I have been to Haiti. I think my dream team of three was able to really engage with our friends there and  realize how many obstacles they face. To have the time to truly listen to their hearts and God opened many doors.

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Jean Marc suffers from pain every day due to a genetic disease that affects his joints. In spite of it, he has always been outgoing, confident, and has overcome all the obstacles. This trip I sat with him while he recounted for me the stories of how he was told as a child he “was nothing but a cripple” and how people discouraged his parents from sending him to school because they said he would never amount to anything. A Christian school by his house

IMG_1455actually refused to allow him to enroll so he was left walking 1 1/2 miles in the mountains in order to get an education. Some days his legs got him there and other times the pain was too much. Listening to him recount how he has carried this with him all his life was heartbreaking…..but such a privilege to share in his struggle.

 

 

The school where we work is grades K-6th. It has been our dream for years to add a secondary school but the cost has been too much for us to manage. As it stands, students who graduate from our school must leave the village for 7th grade and live 20 miles from their parents to attend in Port au Prince. They must have approximately $500 US per year for books, uniform, and tuition and have a place to stay (at an additional cost). For the farmers in Chauffard, this is rarely an option. So after 7 years of applying themselves academically and overcoming so many obstacles, the students are forced to quit school. Even though I knew this was a problem, I was overwhelmed with the reality when I saw one of our graduates, Julie, selling in the market because she was not in school.

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One day a student, the next a graduate, and then the road to education stops. Why? Money. Smart, motivated, studious, and driven but hindered simply by the fact that her parents are farmers and cannot provide an education for her. As I snapped the picture of her in the market, I was weeping. Weeping over her and the other 16 students who graduated last year from our school who are not able to continue. On the plane ride home as I was wrestling with this, I came to a realization. Education has always been an issue in impoverished countries and will continue to be if we are not advocates. If we don’t stand in the gap for those who have no voice. So my attitude has been slowly shifting. As I have begun to recover from the despair and desperation I feel for these students, it has turned into a feeling of thanksgiving that I get the opportunity to be the voice for them and the one who fights for education. In a country where we very much take schooling for granted, I get to educate others on the struggle that occurs all around the world. As my friend so simply put it …….

 PAIN INTO PURPOSE.

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The stories from this one trip could easily fill up a book. The lives full of loss and gain, triumph and defeat. Not much unlike our lives, but the struggle is so extreme in Haiti that sometimes my mind cannot even comprehend it. The people of Chauffard have never seen a cent from the government- NOTHING. No help with education or roads or food. They are contributing members of society yet they are declined anything to improve the way they live.  And yet…..they persevere through the hardships and the disasters. I have yet to see one of them give up. I will never understand the capacity of the human spirit in them. It will always be a mystery to me.

The mountains are calling and I must go.

My shoes sit by the door and I am ready to go. To help. To learn. To encourage. To be blessed by a people who teach me more in a day than I could learn here in a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Haiti Thoughts: People are Not Projects

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Every time I am in the Ft. Lauderdale or Port au Prince airport, I see a flood of short term mission groups with matching Tshirts. Yes, we have them too because quite honestly, it is the easiest way to keep track of people. But what people will print on their Tshirts baffles me. I can usually filter out the “Bringing Hope to Haiti” and “Jesus is the Answer for Haiti” but yesterday I was stopped in my tracks. I literally came to a halt in the flow of airport traffic of people hustling and bustling and could not move. A lady was sporting a hot pink Tshirt that adorned the words “Heaven’s Helpers 4 Haiti.” WOW.

I need to back up a little here before you think I am hating on the “missionaries.” I am sure that sounds very cute and sweet that she felt she was dropped from heaven to work with the poor people but I want to look at it from the perspective of a Haitian.

First, many Haitians in the city who have gone to high school can read English. They know enough to put  it all together and realize that Haiti has a problem and the person who is wearing the Tshirt has the solution. When did we become so arrogant that we think we even know what the problem in Haiti is in the first place? After 6 years and about 20 trips to Haiti, I don’t know what the problems are and I KNOW for sure that I am not the answer.

Haitians in the village where we work know way more about Jesus and worship than I will ever comprehend. They bring the hope of Jesus to me with their steadfast faith and unrelenting worship. I would never, ever presume that when I am there I am bringing more of Jesus than they already have. If I do offer something of value, GREAT. God had a purpose but not because I have any idea what it means to depend on Him for the rain for my crops so my family can eat or a raging fever to break when there is no doctor or medicine. That kind of perseverance I know nothing about. My Tshirt would read “Thank you, Haiti, for showing me your BIG faith. I now know mine is very small.” Period.

I wonder how Americans would feel if troops of bandana wearing, hair braided, boot sporting Haitians got off the plane wearing shirts that said “Heaven’s Helpers 4 America.” What would be your first reaction? Would you think how arrogant it sounded that Haitians would have any idea where to start to help America? I would.

Short term mission trips are very controversial in fact. There is a growing trend of Americans paying large amounts of money to fly into poor areas and do work that honestly, the locals could easily do themselves. Many of those trips are planned where the group stays in a hotel with running water, electricity, Wifi, hot meals, etc. while the area where they are serving have none of the above. Many organizations include excursions, shopping trips, and extravagant meals so that people will be enticed to come. I have to ask if these trips are really helping anyone. Is the country where they are serving different because the group came and did the group really sacrifice to come besides maybe giving up a little vacay time?

Our organization is in fact asking these very pertinent questions. We don’t have any luxuries and the ride/walk to our village is brutal, but we are pondering if Haiti is changed by our visits. No conclusions yet but we need to continue to ask ourselves if short term mission trips are producing long term change in the country where we serve and in the country in which we live because of what we are doing.

When we first started working in Chauffard, Haiti no one who lived there trusted Americans so we were in for a long road of building bridges with them. We were told by the leaders in the community that Haitians were jaded because most of the time foreigners came in, started a project, went back to their first world problems, and never returned.  The people in the country felt they were projects and when the trip was over so was the help. Haiti is full of half built structures that foreigners never completed because life got in the way.

I think the answer to some (not all) of these problems is that our work needs to be LONG TERM and RELATIONAL. Poor people can paint a building and swing a hammer way better than you and I can. It is insulting that we come in and start fixing things that, with the resources provided, they could do themselves and in turn have dignity and  ownership in their community.  Every single time we have made a plan for clean water, buildings, etc. the Haitians have shown us a better, more effective way to go about it than any of us “professionals” have found. We should find ourselves humbled by the locals’ ingenuity and resourcefulness. We have learned this lesson the hard way.  When we come in and do the work as the “Savior foreigners,” they sit and watch us waste resources and do things inefficiently and inside they begin to resent us. Why? Because we never even asked them how to do what they know in their own country. How sad.

When we go on a trip to a third world country, we need to come home CHANGED. The work when we get home is ever present. Local opportunities to serve are everywhere and contributing to a global organization for education, clean water, and basic necessities is a command God gives us that we cannot ignore. I have to say that I see this kind of external change in people very rarely. They often return to the lives they had before they left and have a few cute Facebook posts and photos but evident life change is a rarity.

My friend from Togo, West Africa came to Haiti with me for 11 days. She said that when missionaries came to her village when she was a little girl and stared at them in their bare feet and filthy clothes, they were ashamed. They felt like a project because the people would see their poverty and begin to hand out “stuff” without knowing anything about them except that they were poor.

When we get to know our friends in poor countries, hear their stories, and offer them our shoes, we are giving because we love. Not because we pity.  How we offer things to people needs to be done in a way that empowers people. Our organization gives backpacks to students who have earned them- so they feel proud to have received something, not ashamed that because they had nothing, we had to come in and “save” them.

We are called to love because He first loved us. Jesus never made us a project. He laid down His life for us and said it was finished. Let’s love like that.

Haiti…..a journey through time

We came to Chauffard, Haiti in 2009- one year before the earthquake.

When we arrived, this was their “school.”  It held 40 students and 2 teachers in this one small building. It is hard for us as Americans to comprehend that this could be a school but it was.

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Within a few months, our team in Haiti was able to build this structure and we were thrilled with it! They cleared a corn field and got to work. We had limited funds so the walls stopped when the money ran out. At this time we started our stateside nonprofit organization, CPI Haiti.
Because the climate is very rainy and the tarp was so small, our school could not really grow. The tents in the picture are where our team stayed when were there.
 We then were able to purchase a larger tarp but not one with a long life expectancy….it was thin and began ripping but the Haitians continued to patch it and care for it.  
This is when we were ready to take it down and put up our new tent….
Even though we felt like we were in a circus arena, the school was thrilled with a thicker, more durable tarp. They met under here for about a year.

And then we had a financial gift that allowed us to erect a REAL building!
Meanwhile, the school moved up the mountain and met in this small space for most of the school year in 2011. 

As our space grew we were able to accomodate more students and needed a way to financially support more teachers, supplies, etc.so we started a sponsorship program. We came back and asked everyone we knew to invest in the future of the school.
Then the first floor building was finished and there were a lot of ecstatic teachers and students!

We hoped for classrooms but we did not have the funds at the time to continue building. By July 2012 we had raised the money to build a second story to have a library and 6 classrooms.

The students could then enjoy having their own learning space for the first time. 


We even gave the rooms makeovers in November 2014! 
In August 2014, we had our first ever graduation ceremony for the 12 out of 13 6th graders in our school who graduated!
Our sponsorship program has continued to grow and to date we have 150 students sponsored….but the work is not finished.
The needs are great…..
We are not able to feed our school everyday. When we cannot afford to feed them lunch, they don’t eat. The students pick up firewood on their way to school each day but sometimes we don’t have the beans and rice to make a meal. Those days they go without.
The roads are difficult and hard to travel. We spent a lot of money on renting vehicles over the first few years.

Several years ago we were able to buy a truck and ship it to Haiti. The truck is used to transport teachers, food, and groups. It is constantly needing new tires and other repairs.

 We desperately need a medical clinic. People in Chauffard die from preventable diseases all the time. Here are a few who died in the past year from common, curable illnesses. 
We need to increase our number of sponsors so we can provide students like Julien a secondary education. He was the #1 student in the entire region on the state exam in 6th grade but has had to drop out of school because he cannot afford secondary school in the city, which includes tuition, books, housing, and food. It is tragic for an eager, bright student not to make it past 6th grade due to finances. If we had the funding we would start a secondary school in our village so our students who graduate would not need to live away from home and pay for an education that is not feasible for most.
You can learn more about our organization at cpihaiti.org.

“When you make well, it is not easy.”




These are the words of Jean Marc. He gave me this nugget of information with his broken English after I had dealt with a particularly difficult situation in our school in Haiti. As I was working to bring truth to the forefront I came against some resistance, and Jean Marc did not want me to give up but to continue to work for justice and fairness and to be loyal to my cause.

Jean Marc knows a thing or two about life not being easy but choosing what is good and right.  He was born with multiple epiphyseal dysplasia, which leaves his joints disfigured and causes extreme pain when he walks.

The disease affects 1 in 10,000 newborns and many of those begin to receive treatment as soon as they are born. The disease is not curable, however, there are ways to alleviate some of the pain for younger patients. Jean Marc, however, did not see a doctor until he was 21 years old and by then it was too late for any kind of treatment.

His family lives in a rural village in Haiti where 100% of the population farms (often on the sides of steep mountains) and sells their goods in the capital city of Port au Prince, which is a 15 mile walk down the mountain.
Jean Marc knows that he will never be able to farm with his condition so he gives everything he has to his education….but what does that look like in Haiti? Handicapped buses? A wheelchair to get around?  Special considerations during tests because he needs to get up and move around during tests because of the pain? Physical and occupational therapy? None of the above.

It means he gets up at 5 AM to get to the road at 6 AM so he can get on a tap tap (basically a truck with benches in the back) before all the other students. School starts at 8 AM. He does not eat lunch most days. I got this text from him yesterday:
Hi friend! How are you? I’m not too well, because l have a pain in my abdomen , it’s very very harm.
Do I tell him the pain is from hunger? I don’t think my mouth can form those words….they are too hard for me to say. He is my son and I would do anything to make sure my boys do not go without…..but sometimes he does and I cry myself to sleep over it some nights.
But Jean Marc knows that his education is more important than anything, even food. He has amazing people here in the US who help with his education and for that he is so grateful. But he has to choose books over rice and beans. How many of us would do that? Not many. But Jean Marc gets it- his schooling will pay off in the end even if the pain in his abdomen now feels unbearable.
Jean Marc then gets home after 6 PM because he has to wait for all the other students to get on the tap taps before he can make his way on. By then his body is exhausted….but anytime I call him in the evening he is studying. He studies on vacation days, holidays….anytime he can. He craves knowledge.

 

And when he is not studying, he is making baskets for us to sell in the US to help pay for those tap taps he has to take everyday. They are not free.
Many people in Jean Marc’s situation would have turned to begging on the street, giving up, or finding illegal ways to make money. Many would have an entitled, bitter attitude because of this hard life. Jean Marc? Not a chance. Does he suffer and struggle? Absolutely. He has looked at me through tear stained cheeks many times and told me the pain is almost unbearable and life is so difficult. We have cried together over the suffering he endures but at the end of the day, he never gives up. He stays the course. He perseveres. Like he said…”When you make well, it is not easy.”
And so when the battery dies on my iPhone or my kids don’t like any of the 5 kinds of cereal in the pantry….I have perspective. And that perspective is Jean Marc. 
I don’t see anything the same since I have met him. I cringe at the mentality of so many Americans who are never content. Nothing is ever enough. Even the poorest in America do not know Haiti poor. Here we have free education, free lunches, and free transportation for our students. In Haiti they have none of these. Education is expensive and impossible for many.  If they can afford school, lunch is quite possibly out of the question. And transportation is called walking hours for many unless you cannot physically make it like Jean Marc.
So what can we take away from taking a small glimpse into the window of Jean Marc’s life? Be thankful we are not him and don’t suffer like he does? I don’t think so. I believe we take a long, hard look at ourselves, how we react to hardship, how we raise our children, and how we treat others and we decide to gain a new perspective. One filled with perseverance and a commitment to “make well” even when it is “not easy.” Choosing to do what is good and right and just no matter the cost. As we change, the world will be different.  I truly believe that.

How can we simplify?

I came home from this trip to Haiti in the worst “missionary fog” I have had to date- I have made about 16 trips in the past 5 years and never felt so displaced when I arrived back in the US.  Feeling completely disconnected to America with its Black Friday deals and elaborate Christmas trees, I have been finding myself slipping on a slope of unrest.  It is completely overwhelming to leave extreme poverty and after a 2 hour plane ride find yourself in the US with all its glitz and glamour. The distance between my two worlds is not far on a map but different in every other way imaginable. Lack and excess. It is really hard to put my brain around it most days.

Spending Thanksgiving in Haiti surrounded by sweet friends and microwave mashed potatoes and canned ham felt like the best place on earth. The majority of us decided it was the best tasting turkey day feast we had ever experienced.

Sitting on a bucket on top of a mountain surrounded by friends and family felt like the best escape from the hustle and bustle of the States.

Getting to experience Haiti with my husband and 3 of my 4 sons for the first time was amazing.

Being able to pull up 5 gallons of water from our cistern to serve each of the children in our school a cup of Tang was a blessing.

Knowing our students are getting lunch after 3 months when we could not feed them was a huge relief.

Seeing the first bathroom we have been able to afford to build for the 300 students in our school was exciting.

 Hearing my husband preach to a congregation hungry for the Word was…well, the best.

Watching my friend, Victoi, soak up the words of her Bible was humbling.

Seeing my children unite with the Haitian children around the game of soccer was very moving.

So how do I bring the lessons I learn in Haiti back with me? How am I different because of what I have learned there?

It starts with priority. What really matters?  1. Sharing the Gospel 2. Education 3. Clean water. 4. Food

Those are what matter to me for ALL people. They are essential. The rest doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. When it all comes down to it, we have more so we can be a blessing. Show love to others. Give sacrificially. Make a difference.  So my question to you is……

How can we simplify this holiday season? How can we teach our kids that Christmas is not all about them and their presents?  How can we be ok with less so others can have more?

I want to be different than the typical American family. I want to show love to the marginalized and the lonely. I want to go with less so others can have more.

Anyone else want to take the challenge?

Bring on the rain…..

I have complained at least 10 times a day for the past few weeks about the constant rain.  The pool is overflowing, our road is flooded, the grass is growing too fast, baseball games cancelled, and my hair turns into a frizzy hot mess!  
Then this morning it hit me….

Water.  A necessity but a scarcity for so many.  Walking hours just to fetch water.
And then only having the amount that you can carry on your head.

Contaminated water.
Sometimes just a trickle of water coming out of the source.

Most not having a simple rain barrel.

Washing clothes and dishes conserving every drop of water.


In Haiti we have a school that has grown from 40 students 5 years ago to 300 children currently and there was not a way to catch the rain until recently.  We had a cistern built but no gutters.

Then we built a gutter system.

The cistern had been empty for months but we waited and prayed for rain.
The team was ecstatic about the new gutters but still no rain.  We waited and prayed for rain.

Then it came and it did not stop.  And we hoped it wouldn’t.  In that moment, we knew the importance of the rain.  That is sustains life.  That it is essential to living.  We were not thinking about the inconveniences of the rain or the slippery mountain mud that we would have to endure after the storm.  We were only grateful for the fresh drops of cool rain that poured from the sky.  We were content and not complaining.  
We knew the blessing of the rain.
And the next day the community had water in the cistern that saved them a 3 hour round trip hike to the water source.
So today I have a new attitude about the rain.  As I see it come down, I think about my friends in Haiti who count on it to survive. To boil their rice, to drink a few sips, and wash their few bowls and forks.
I pray one day every single person in our village in Haiti has a rain barrel.
I am hopeful that my inconveniences won’t consume my thoughts but that I would be radically changed because I have seen the need.  Once you have seen you can’t stay the same.  I slip into my little pity parties and God drags me out and reminds me that there is work to be done and there is no time for being consumed with what does not matter for eternity.
Bring on the rain.