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Faith of a Mustard Seed.

As we pulled apart the dirty bandage on his hand, the wound became exposed and a slight gasp came out of Josh and I’s mouth.  The horribly done stitch job was finally visible, looking like a butcher had tried to sew together a piece of meat.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  A hospital in the next city over did this work of “art” which consisted of slapping some stitches on a two flaps of skin that had been cut deep by a machete.

We had never actually met this man, Theodore, before but his son Yvenson had been coming to us for over 3 months for a routine cleaning of a deep infection on his leg.  As Yvenson brought his dad to us hoping we could help, the story of this family got much more complex.

A few nights before, Theodore heard someone in his garden, as he ran out to protect his family and his plantains, a thief with a machete aimed for his face.  Theodore reacted by putting up his hand and the machete sliced it nearly to the bone.

His words were filled with sadness, anger and now fear for the future.  He began explaining that he uses his hands to work.  He looked up at me with puzzled eyes and asked, “How can I farm if I can’t use my hands?”  Not knowing how to answer the question I continued wrapping his hand and stared at the floor.

Theodore had heard rumors about the treatment of Haitian children in the Dominican Republic, but claimed he had “family” there.  Gently and lovingly he explained to Josh and I how he thought this was his only option, to send his 3 boys to the Dominican to live… and work.  With the oldest being only 14 and the youngest being 6, our hearts sank.

He told us that once someone told him they would help him and they asked him to bring his children to Port au Prince.  When he arrived, the man started introducing the children to another man saying that this person (Theodore) was just a nice man that was helping, that the children had no mother and no father….immediately the father interjected, realizing that this man was about to sell his children.

Hearing this story.  I desperately asked him to PLEASE  not do anything immediately, to give me a few days to pray and see what we can do.  He agreed, leaving with a small bag of beans and rice we were able to give him to provide for his family for a few days.

Discussing over and over with Josh about where Respire Haiti could use him, it hit me right before bed.  Despite how simple it might have seemed, I knew it would be perfect for him.  Now that our school campus is completely secure, we need a Gate Keeper during the day.  Perfect!

As he came back a few days later, I explained what we had come up with and he was thrilled!  Knowing that school didn’t start for another month, Josh and I wanted to just keep encouraging him (and giving him small amounts of food and medicine) so he could keep his children while we waited for school to start.

Unfortunately, his pain became worse and his movement of his fingers and wrist declined rapidly.  He showed up one day telling us that he couldn’t feel his pinky finger and that he was in constant pain.  Theodore had continued to grow in Josh and I’s heart so Josh decided he needed to go back to the main hospital and get another doctor to look at him.  With this hospital being far and underfunded, it felt like a hopeless solution to both of us, but Josh wanted to pay for him to get tests.  Nearly 10 hours later he returned with some green marks on his palm where they traced if he had any “feeling” there and that was it.  No recommendation, no information, Nothing.

After this all going on for nearly three weeks of Theodore coming for us to clean his wound, we knew we needed to do something more or he could lose all feeling in his hand.  Josh had the idea to bring him to the  hospital where we recently had an operation done for one of our students.   As he showed up that morning he looked a little different, a little happier.  While I was getting our student, Elizabeth, ready to go to her appointment, Theodore began talking to Josh.

He described a dream he had the night before.  A dream that he explained more of a vision.

~

There was a group of Americans surrounding him and praying in a language he didn’t know.  He looked up at Josh scared and asked what was happening.  Josh responded calmly, “We are praying for you.”  As Theodore described his fear and anxiousness about what was happening, he said everyone continued to pray in English and Josh began speaking to him saying, “You will be healed, you will be delivered.  You will not need surgery or to spend any more money on your hand.”  In his dream Josh put a cream on his wound and then covered it back up. 

 

He awoke and looked over at his wife who had accepted Christ only three days before.  As he shook her awake he began telling her his dream.  She sat up and asked him to move his hand.  A little afraid, he sat up too, and slowly lifted his hand bending all of his fingers toward his palm.  He then lifted his hand up and down moving it at the wrist.  Wiggling his fingers, bending his wrist, and NO pain.  He could FEEL ALL of his fingers.  He could hardly believe it.  He looked at his wife in amazement.  His dream was true, he was healed.

 

~

As he explained this story to Josh on Wednesday morning, Josh was enthralled.   When Josh shared with me Theodore’s story, Josh’s excitement had bred a little conviction.  Conviction that unfortunately we had NOT gathered around Theodore and prayed for healing.  A conviction that that was NOT the first thing we did when he walked through our gate.

As many of Respire Haiti’s staff heard the story, we all felt convicted but also sensed that God was teaching us THROUGH Theodore.  Honoring the vision that Theodore had, we decided to pray that evening at 6:00pm.  It was my task to invite Theodore to come to pray with us, however trying to reach Theodore was impossible as his cell phone was turned off.  As we all sat on the steps of the Respire Haiti Guest House I suggested we start, thinking that Theodore would not be here (as he was not aware we were praying for him) but hoping he would know somehow.

Josh explained the story of Theodore, the severity of his hand and how the day before he was unable to move it at all.  He went on to describe the dream that Theodore had and we continued to sit amazed at the power of our God.

As Josh bent his head to pray, we were all silent and sitting in awe of God’s power.  A few minutes in, a knock on the gate, as I ran to open it I almost became disoriented as Theodore and one of his sons walked through our gate.

Theodore walked up smiling and began telling us about his dream again.  Feeling like we should truly honor the vision the Lord had given him, we sat him in a chair and most of the Respire Haiti staff Americans, Haitians as well as our beautiful children and his precious son laid hands on him to pray.

Voices lifted up in English and Haitian Creole and the beauty of hearing these prayers for this man brought tears to our eyes.

As Patrick, one of our incredible staff members asked him if he wanted to declare his faith, Theodore smiled with excitement.  In front of all of us he accepted Jesus as His savior.

The power in these stories is beyond convicting.  We READ about how God heals, we have HEARD of His miracles, but do we actually have the FAITH to BELIEVE they will happen.  I know that my heart, my faith and my prayer life have now been challenged.

God is BIG.  He is awesome in Power and He is our Healer.  I want to BELIEVE that, PRAY for that and have FAITH that He can heal.

“He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith.  For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 17:20

 

The Climb.

Written Friday September 6th.

Today broke me.  Physically and Emotionally.

 

Many people on our staff learned about Hearing Loss and Impairment when we discovered a child in our Kindergarten was having speech and hearing problems.  The family of this child, neighbors, everyone called this 5 almost 6 year old Bebe (baby) because she couldn’t speak.  The rumors flew about her…how her tongue was cut, Voodoo Spells were involved, etc.  And finally when I met her all of this was dispelled.

Throughout this many week process, James our motorcycle driver listened and learned intently.  He’s a young, outgoing and sarcastic boy of 20 that keeps us all laughing.  He calls me his mom and Josh his dad, jokingly but yet at the same time says it in all seriousness.  He once explained how he’s been on his own since 6- both his parents are deceased.  When I first asked him who raised him he gently shrugged, looked down and answered, “People.”  When I would question him and ask what people?  He would just look up, half smile and just say he doesn’t really know.

So  James came forward a few days ago and said he found another “Bebe” but younger, he asked me if I would look at her.  Knowing I probably couldn’t do much seeing as we STILL haven’t been able to find a hearing aid or reliable test for BeBe, I still said yes.

James looked up grinned and with his exaggerated Creole said, “It’s FARRRRRR Meg.”  and laughed.  I asked if it was still in Gressier and he said yes.  So with my naive thinking I thought it can’t be that bad!

As I hopped on his moto James began telling me that we were headed next door to the place he stays and this is where he goes back to every night.  We drove farther and farther into the mountains.  More and more into what I can only describe as the jungle of Gressier.  Trees that were incredible, towering high above.  Sounds of faint streams.  Birds chirping.

Before I knew it we were deep in the heart of it.  Voodoo crosses made of old wood and obviously scarred from burning began to appear more and more.  As I looked up to see the beautiful trees again what I found was enormous trees immersed with hanging black bags of offerings to the Voodoo Spirits.  We passed more color wrapped poles for worship, many more crosses and the oppression grew and grew.  Just as I felt the oppression become nearly suffocating.  We arrived.

 

As we got off the moto, young children ran away screaming and old people began to point and gasp.  I looked around amazed at the mud huts interspersed with USAID tents.  James walked ahead and we began on a small hike to get to the childs house.  Looking around at the beautiful scenery, I couldn’t believe we were still in Gressier.  As we got to the young childs house,  we saw no one.  The neighbors began shouting from afar that they were gone and had gone to a funeral for a few days.  Being that they had no phone number we decided to return to the moto.  Standing next to his moto with people and children peering at us through trees and the brush around, I grilled James with questions.  Do kids go to school?  Where are the schools?  How do they get food out here?

He smiled and gently answered all of my rapid fire questions.  As he pointed to a mud covered hut that had a small mixed thatch and metal roof,  he explained that this is where he sleeps at night but not where he grew up.  More interested now I asked him where he actually grew up and with his back to all roads he pointed toward the next mountain.  The mountain looked deceptively close so  I  exclaimed, “We should go visit!”  His eyes lit up.

We headed toward the next mountain as I spoke the Haitian Proverb, “Beyond Mountains there are mountains.”  We drove through the jungle with the occasional shouts of “Megan” getting fainter and the shouts of “Blan” (white) getting more frequent.   Again passing crosses, offerings, masks and more, the confusion that filled the air was THICK.   James went on to explain (probably feeling my tenseness as I gripped his shoulder a little tighter every time we passed a cross) that people often sacrifice cows and pigs here for “nothing”.  That families starve while they make their offerings.  Almost immediately after he said this we passed a wooden cross with a whole plate of food lying at the base.

We continued to ride up the mountain then our speed came practically to a crawl.  As we slid back a bit James decided he couldn’t go forward anymore, that the path was too slippery and we needed to walk.  Not wanting to ask the imminent 5 year old question, “Are we there yet?” I got off the moto and continued trekking.

 

Passing more screaming children and Haitian Adults both yelling “Blan” and asking me to come visit their house I had a brief moment of thanking God that Haitians aren’t Cannibals as I heard them steadily calling out to their neighbors to come and see the white person.

As we passed through the growing group we arrived on what seemed to be a small foot path dug into the rocks.  Continuing to ask James more questions about this area, its kids and what it is like his response seemed the same as before.  No schools, no money to send kids to schools, no respect or understanding of education.

Walking by another wooden cross I imagined how the enemy must laugh at this situation.  Of course the enemy’s mindset is to OPPRESS and trap the people of Haiti by never giving them the opportunity to get an education.  To never read or write their name.  To never READ the Word of God.  What a way to halt generations and keep them repressed, confused and naive of the TRUTH.

 

 

As we moved forward my prayers for this community grew stronger.  Feeling the Holy Spirit desiring for these children to know HIM and His truth, identity and freedom, my prayers began out loud in English.  

 

 

Just as soon as I thought again,  Are we there yet?  The sky opened up and the rain began.  We kept walking, slipping through and trekking up a steep mountain.  I laughed at what I must look like,  James with his flip flops gracefully walking up the mountain and me slipping, yelping and falling the whole time .

As the rain continued to pour on us James announced for the 3rd time that we were almost there.  Walking with rain soaked clothes, clawing at the trees to climb up the mountain, mud beginning to crawl up in-between my toes.  Falling for the hundredth time, James turned around asking for my sandals so I would slip less.  Conceding because I believed at this rate I would never make it up the mountain, I moved forward, barefoot, dirty and soaking wet.  It seemed like only a few more minutes then we finally arrived.

James’ grandfather greeted us when we arrived and as I looked around I thought the “MIDDLE” of nowhere is an understatement.  The rain stopped.  We began visiting and joking about the color of my feet, completely orange from the mud.  And James began describing the many times I fell (as if they couldn’t see my mud covered skirt and arm.  I was utterly amazed at how far James really did live, I couldn’t believe that he grew up here, in this Voodoo ridden jungle.

We saw the sun was going to begin setting soon so we began to head back.  Thinking the way down is ALWAYS easier than the way up, we were off, deciding barefoot would be the best way this time.

 

Still slipping shoeless, I had the quick thought, I “wish” there were some rocks so I wouldn’t fall so much.   Within a few minutes my prayer had been answered and we continued walking down on a steady mix of rocks and mud.

After a few more minutes I realized how silly of a thought that was and that rocks were NOT the better choice.  The cringing began.  Every few steps it felt like my bottom layer of skin on my feet might fall off.  As I asked James, who was many steps ahead, for my flip flops, not seeing my point he yelled back, no you will keep slipping.  So we moved forward.

 

The rocks slowly turned from a decent “foot massages” to crippling pain.  As I watched men, women and children walking up and down this rocky path without shoes and most with tools, buckets of water or food on their heads my sympathy and respect grew.  I thought about my daughter Micha fetching water barefoot nearly 2 miles away from her then home.  I thought of my other daughter Johanne’s trek to my house many miles away barefoot just to come and see us.

I continued reminding myself how my current “pain” is minimal compared to the normal days in the life of a Haitian.

Walking and sliding back down the mountain seemed to take forever.  The sun had almost set and my feet felt like they were raw and almost numb.  Finally with tears welling up in my eyes I called out to James saying I couldn’t walk anymore like this.  As he ran back up to meet me where I was, he bent down to put my flip-flops on the ground.  Sliding them on, I continued walking down the mountain, slower than a 6 year old child next to me.

After what seemed like hours, we arrived at the motorcycle.  Seeing the slippery rocks ahead, I walked down to let James meet me at the plateau below.  Finally sitting on a rock, my heart felt like it was going to explode with all of the emotion from the day.  The thoughts came flying through….the privilege of education, the privilege of school, the privilege of electricity, water, cell service, and most incredibly the PRIVILEGE of knowing our Savior Jesus.

My heart ached at hearing the stories of parents paying Voodoo Priests out of fear instead of paying for a child’s education.  Or a child dying from malnutrition because the family owed the “spirits” too much, so they continued to give their only food to the cross in the middle of their yard.

Hopping back on his motorcycle to head home, the ride was silent as I processed James’ world.  DEAD silent as I processed the world of the many other children I saw, children (and families) who are being deceived by the enemy to believe in the lies of Voodoo, children who are NOT being given a fair chance to learn, grow and be educated, children who are being HIDDEN in the jungles and unaware of the love of Jesus Christ.

 

This powerful experience left me shaken, broken and SURE that Christ brought us to Gressier, ALL of Gressier, to fight for these children to know their Identity in Christ and to give these children an opportunity for education.

 

 

Pray with me as HE reveals what this means.

Faith and Family Multiplied

I have wanted to write about this for weeks, but it seems like the words couldn’t come out.  My sentences were incoherent and my thoughts were spinning…

 

People who have visited here always make comments about how they can see how easy it would be to all of a sudden have a house full of 20 children.  Our kids we work with come from a multitude of mostly terrible situations…restaveks, orphans, abusive situations…and after these peoples comments about having a houseful of children, I normally smile and chuckle a bit and then say my prayer of NOT wanting that…my mind spins with the amount of therapy, healing, prayer etc went into two children…

 

Having two children from restavek backgrounds has been a challenge enough, and we seem to have arrived in a beautiful moment where their past is their past, and God has grown these two girls into beautiful, healing and blossoming children.

 

But God knows OUR stories and OUR journeys WAY before we do.

 

A little over a year ago I received a call from a Pastor we work with, Pastor Benito, saying that he was really worried about some people that had just moved near him.  In his words, “These people are VERY poor and they have nothing, can you come see if you can help them.”  As I got off of the phone with this pastor who lived in between a tent and a hurricane broken house, my mind spun with his comments.  I felt like I was in the MIDST of poverty already, so for someone to call me who already LIVES in poverty and express that they were worried about someone in poverty, I couldn’t imagine how it was.

 

As I arrived at the place where these people were, I saw two incredibly thin children with oversized t-shirts living under a tarp.  Their mother and father were dead and they were living with some “relatives.”

 

God knew that meeting these two children would only be the beginning.

 

As Respire enrolled them in school since they had never been before, I knew that I would be able to watch and monitor them more…but I had no idea what kind of relationship HE was starting.

 

Over the next 6 months we grew in relationship with not only the children but also the people “taking care” of them.

 

It wasn’t until a knock on the door in January changed everything.  You can read the whole story in a previous blog as it was fresh in my mind here.  But basically the 12 year old girl was kidnapped and brought to a Voodoo Temple.  Her 10 year old brother divinely led us to her.

 

As she began living in one of Respire’s houses, a few weeks later the 10 year old boy, her brother,  went missing.

 

Our hearts broke as we had only a faint idea of where he might be.  Josh and I prayed daily for his return and then as ONLY God can do….He rescued this precious boy.  You can read more about that story here.

 

With both of these precious children living on Respire Grounds we began praying fervently about these children.

 

After much prayer and support, we have…God has, grown our family.

I am so blessed to have a mother that is so supportive and encouraging, and friends and family who trust what Christ is doing in our lives here in Haiti.

And most importantly, I am beyond blessed to have an incredible husband who is a natural parent and is such a good Daddy to so many.   In his words, “6 months of marriage and we aren’t adding kids we’re multiplying :)”

 

The healing that needs to happen is huge.  We can definitely use your prayer.  Although their bodies are free, their minds are still in a battle that ONLY God can heal.  Please pray with us for protection, courage and healing.  Voodoo, oppression and demons are VERY real here.  It is a long process to understand and work through the things that our children have seen, heard and experienced.  We have been HONORED to see that God has already made remarkable changes and can only imagine the incredible plans that God has for these beautiful siblings.

 

 

 Johanne (JoJo) 12

JoJo

 Saintil, 10.

Saintil

CrazyBeachKids

Fam

And then there were 6.

Bleeding Hearts.

I believe that God looks at His creation often and is smiling, excited and His eyes are glowing with joy.

But then I wonder what happens to His heart when He sees the way some of His children are treated.

I am overwhelmed with emotion when our hearts break like His, when our hearts and eyes see things the way He sees them.

Sharon and Tachi found an elderly woman laying on the ground outside of the Café a couple of days ago.  Sharon called me and I came right over.  Looking down at her, her eyes were filled with a mix of something I hadn’t seen before….fear and joy.

As I asked her a few questions, I could tell that she might have had a stroke and was very lost and confused.  She couldn’t tell me anything about where she had come from, and the only piece of information I got from her was her name, Katherine.

She had actually been walking naked but someone near our Café had given her a robe to put on, so when we saw her she had on an oversized robe with a huge gash on her leg.  She smiled and told us that she loved us and as I thanked her and told her I loved her too.

 

My mind was overwhelmed…This is God’s child.  Lost.  Alone.  Hurt.

 

The amount of people walking past her broke my heart.  The way people stopped and stared made me so angry that I finally started asking them if they knew this woman, as they all would say no I would then ask them if they are stopping and staring because they want to help us.  Only one of the many passerby’s that I asked the second question to actually stopped and helped.

As the crowd around that was helping asked me what I thought we should do, I prayed for an answer.  For some reason in this situation all I could think about was calling 911.  Calling for someone to come pick up and help this elderly lost woman.

But there is no 911.  There is no Urgent Care Calling.  There is no Silver Alert.

As I waited for Mark to bring the car, Katherine continued saying that she loved us.  I kept thinking, please don’t say that, please don’t love us, we really can’t help you.

The Katherine’s of this country have few options.  They are forgotten.  My mind began doing the usual wandering of how important it is to have a place for these precious children of God that have spent their time here on earth and are in between the stage of earth and heaven.

 

When I put Katherine into the back seat of our car, I saw my precious grandmother.  I closed the door and sat up front, sunglasses on, tears welling up and thinking about her.

My sweet grandmother was an INCREDIBLE woman.  Strong-willed, compassionate, loving. (Hmm, maybe I’ve gotten some of this from her)  She raised a huge family of amazing people and her legacy lives on through this clan in so many ways.  She also had Alzheimer’s and was actually found wandering the neighborhood a few times.

I looked at Katherine and it meant more to me than I could explain.  I had to help my grandmother, but I felt like my hands were tied, my options were non-existent.  As we ended up bringing her to a hospital/clinic in the next city over that took her, for now, I felt defeated.

 

As I laid my head down that night, I could feel my chest tighten.  I kept thinking of how God’s heart must feel.  Every. Day.  EVERYDAY.

Overwhelmed with sadness.

Tears streaming at seeing His children naked, hungry, lost and hurting.

Seeing the Katherine’s wandering the streets with passerby’s stopping and staring but not lifting a finger.

 

I feel like ever since I moved to Haiti my heart has started bleeding and has never stopped.  The pain, sadness and suffering that are experienced every day are unexplainable.  And if it weren’t for PRAYER, an amazing team and the unwavering knowledge that God has SENT me here for HIS purpose and vision…I think I KNOW I would turn into a bleeding mess.

I know that the Battle has been WON….but being in the trenches sometimes it’s easy to forget that.  Because until we get to heaven, our heart breaks for what breaks His heart, and so my heart is bleeding, with His.

 

Please pray with me, for the Katherine’s not just here in Haiti but all over the world.  Pray for our team here that only God could have put together, for their courage, strength and endurance IN CHRIST.  And pray for all the bleeding that happens in our hearts here in Haiti.

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