People always ask me about how I ended up in Haiti and more importantly, Gressier…so I decided to write about it. Here’s my story.
I was hired by Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in November of 2009 to plan medical mission trips for their doctors and nurses. My first trip to Haiti was in April 2010, when I went to Aquin, Haiti (about 70 miles from Port au Prince, where Our Lady of the Lake has a clinic for children) My world was really rocked! After that I visited Haiti again for a few weeks in June and July. I was already starting to fall in love with the culture and the people.
In August 2010, I again went to Aquin, heading a medical trip. After the team left I spent some time in Port au Prince with some friends. I ended up helping with another team that was still in there. They asked their translator if he could take them to visit a pretty place in Haiti…that beautiful place was Gressier, where he had once visited. So, we set out to spend part of the afternoon there.
When we arrived, our car wouldn’t make it up the mountain so we all had to get out and walk up. On the way up to the mountain, some people from the group were walking ahead and were playing with a little 3 or 4 year old Haitian girl. As they were putting her down, I noticed a HUGE wound on her leg…I immediately made a comment hoping someone in the group had medical experience and could help her…I waited a minute and no one said anything. I have always been the one who couldn’t even watch Grey’s Anatomy without covering my face, so I knew I couldn’t clean it…but when no one budged and no one volunteered to clean it, I had no choice…I prayed the whole time, Lord give me the strength to do this…as I poured some water in it and watched the bugs and flies come out, I tried so hard not to gag…all we had was a first aid kit so I finished cleaning the wound with that. The baby girl cringed but didn’t even let out of a whimper. After I finished, she went back inside her fence.
We continued walking up the mountain and finally got to the top where we could see most of Gressier, and the beauty of Haiti. When I was up there I thought, “Wow, this is a beautiful place.” Obviously, there was a big need for help, but I really thought that was for someone else to do….However, I couldn’t get Haiti off of my mind…especially Gressier.
Finally in October after some stubbornness (Read: Big Change of Heart) I realized that it was God’s plan for ME to move to Haiti…Not someone else.
I called one of my Haitian friends, Bernard, to look for a house for me in Gressier. He said he would go the next day. He found NOTHING anywhere…so he went and spoke to a Pastor’s wife that he knew in Gressier, she verified that there was nothing available. There were few houses still standing in Gressier after the earthquake, and definitely not any for rent. After hearing this, he called me saying he couldn’t find anything and even though I was a little discouraged, I knew this is where God wanted me to be, so I was not ready to give up.
I said a quick prayer that basically consisted of, “Lord, I know this is your plan, so I know you will work it out.” Almost immediately after the phone rang. It was my friend Bernard again saying that the Pastor’s wife just called him back and said that she spoke with her husband (who is in the hospital in the states). They were willing to rent their house to me. Bernard called and said that he was fairly confident that they thought it was the only house still standing in Gressier. So, without another option I decided to rent it.
Although I had only been in Gressier for one hour in August 2010, after speaking to the Pastor I moved to Gressier without even seeing the house. I had no idea what I would be doing or who I would be working with. I was just looking to meet their needs. It took me only a few days to see that many of the children did not eat on Saturdays…this is where I began… and started feeding the children the following Saturday. The first Saturday I fed 70 children and thought WOW! What a Success! The next Saturday I fed 300 children!!!
After being in Gressier for about a week in December, I met Michaelle. (Read her story here) and realized the next need was putting children in school…I enrolled over 15 children within the next few weeks. After this, things started growing in a crazy way…
I went home for a two weeks at the end of January and came back mid February and something incredible happened. When I was back in Gressier, I started speaking Haitian Creole and realized I could speak fluently. It was Divine. My Haitian friends asked me if I went home and had lessons for two weeks, and even then they were puzzled, my American friends who came to visit were just perplexed. It was and is such an amazing God thing.
Things have just continued at this amazing rate…Back in August 2010 the first time I looked at the beautiful mountain, I made a comment about buying land here on the mountain, even before I knew that I would be coming back to Gressier to live. I wasn’t sure how much land would be or if it was even possible…
Today Respire Haiti is the proud owner of almost 2 acres of land on that same mountain top and will start building a school for 300 students, hopefully, before the end of May.
Only GOD knew how this was going to work out and even though it’s just the beginning…in only 5 short months of living in Haiti, GOD has done amazing things…we are now starting to build a school…we recently started a second feeding program in another area of Gressier on Saturday mornings…now we feed over 600 children every Saturday...we have English classes 5 days a week for 2 hours every day throughout Gressier…there are now 99 children in our school ages 5 to 17, 1st grade to 5th grade…and thanks to a recent visit from some board members, we are beginning to work on economic development and job creation….God is doing great things in Gressier :)
Thank you all for your generosity and support of these children!
**If you would like to help with building the school, please click and donate here!!