Tag Archive: Breaking


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.

God Knows the Ending

Thursday morning, walking down the road away from the Respire Haiti Café I heard a scream and some yelling.  I turned around and saw the typical scene of a few discombobulated Haitians yelling about something.  Then I saw her jetting across the busy street towards me.  No shoes, ripped clothing, face in a panic, and eyes FILLED with fear.

As I told the Haitians throwing rocks at her to calm down, they yelled out, “She’s a crazy person.”  Again, I insisted they calm down and I began to walk toward her.  Wringing her hands together she looked at me and without saying a word she grabbed my hand.

Asking her questions, her eyes hit the floor and she wouldn’t respond to anything.  People continued to yell at her.  I asked if they knew her and they all said, “No, she’s a crazy person.” so I just gave them the evil eye and turned around.

We began walking toward my house having every other person stop, stare and continue to yell out, “Megan, she’s a crazy person.”

After about the 5th person to stop and yell this out…I turned around and yelled out….”She’s a CHILD, A CHILD, A CHILD of God….Do you see that?” and then further mumbled”Stop staring, if you’re not going to help, keep walking.”  Okay, maybe not one of my most gentle moments, but with just those 5 minutes of people yelling and throwing rocks I had about had it.

When we finally got to the house, I stood outside the gate…the staring continued and people literally stopped and gawked at the “Crazy person”…Precious FiFi who works at our house came outside and stated clearly, “She’s a Zombie.”  I looked at Fifi and told her, “Fifi, she’s a child, and if you don’t have anything nice to say, go inside.”  Fifi covered up her mouth, said sorry and stayed put.

As the gawking continued, I brought her inside of our gate.  Darline  gave her a peanut butter sandwich and some water and she proceeded to scarf this down and drink every bit of water.  She then proceeded to start running around outside, touching and grabbing everything.

My first instinct was to pray.  I had no idea where she had come from, where she had been, how she got here.

I sent out a mass text to our staff and within minutes everyone arrived (Shout out to Mark Langham who ran down the mountain in a record time of 3 minutes).

As everyone arrived we began praying for her, she sat down and was miraculously quiet and willing to pray with us.

Not knowing what to do next, but knowing that it is quite illegal to just keep a child with us, Bernard and some of the team headed to the police station.  As Bernard drove, he was put on a wild goose chase, going to the Gressier Police Station to only be directed to the Leogane Police Station and then to a “Child Officer” in Leogane who then ironically said the only one who could help was a woman officer in Gressier, who after calling her, was actually the first officer at the Gressier Police Station that said she couldn’t do anything.

Yes, confusion and mission NOT accomplished.

Talking with a few other friends we thought that we might have some information about her family.  As we waited a few hours for this information, it never came.

As evening came, Sharon, Stephanie and I (yes it took 3 people), began to bathe this precious 12 year old.  Covered in filth and dirt, she got a glance of herself in the bathroom mirror.  “SARAH!” she exclaimed.

After putting on clean clothes, we made a bed for her and all huddled in a room downstairs watching her and playing with her.  She looked again at another mirror on a cabinet, opened the cabinet looking behind it, and closed it again and tapped on the mirror.  She smiled.

Sitting on her bed, she began picking at her feet, as we took a closer look we saw she had tons of splinters, cuts and stuff in her feet,  from walking around without shoes on.  As Sharon huddled near her foot she tried her best to take out whatever was bothering her in her foot.

As we sang some Will Regan (love his music), Sarah began to calm down and slowly gave in to sleep.

All exhausted, we discussed who would stay with her, as Mark said he would, we all left and showered and tried to get some sleep.

As I laid down, my mind was spinning and the thoughts came flying out….”Why will no one help us?”  “What are we supposed to do?”  “It SO easy to just turn the other way, she’s a CHILD, how can they not see that?”

No one slept.

Sarah slept for over 12 hours and awoke in a tizzy, our new intern Andre who just arrived a few days earlier, was sitting in her room reading and watching her sleep.  He said she literally popped right up and started running around, I glanced over the balcony and saw him using his few Creole words, running behind her and trying to get her not to touch everything.

Making a few more phone calls we were told that we should not have her without any information or paperwork, yet no one in Gressier could help us with this.  Our friend suggested we go to IBESR, basically Social Services, (my worst nightmare) in Port au Prince.

What happened next is only how it’s been told to me, I know Sharon will write about it when she can and explain the difficulties.  Sharon and Bernard then proceeded to try and figure things out, but basically it was the same run around.  Arriving at IBESR, they took one look and said, we can’t take any child without paperwork.  And didn’t give her a second thought.  In fact one of the awesomely kind workers at IBESR, looked at her and stated, “This is an office.  Get THAT out of here.”

All I can say is thank God that I wasn’t there…I might have puffed up my feathers and punched somebody 🙂

Finally, we were told to bring her to BCPJ (Basically the children’s police station), they said that they were the ones who were going to write up paperwork, and bring her back to IBESR where then she could be placed somewhere.

I had already drawn up a list of every Special Needs Orphanage, Home or Organization I knew of with matching contact numbers, hoping to do as MUCH of the police and IBESR’s job as possible, knowing that they wouldn’t 1- know what to do and 2- actually do it.

The officers at BCPJ looked at Sarah and literally did not know what to do.  As I called the Inspector again trying to explain that if they write up paperwork that they can call these places to place her, he seemed generally confused.  Simultaneously all of these places were telling me that they couldn’t take a child without paperwork (understandably) and the only division with authority to give paperwork was IBESR (but IBESR couldn’t take a child without paperwork…hmmm…)

Our brains spinning, our team split between Port au Prince and Gressier, we were exhausted.

Who knows what the right thing to do was?  The Gressier Police were telling us that we are NOT able to keep her with us without papers.  But then no one would take her or direct us.

The day ended with Sarah staying at the Port au Prince Children’s Police Division, and some of our tired, saddened team headed back to Gressier, with our Gressier team simultaneously praying, crying and frustrated at how broken and disgusting this world can be.

The endless circles and games of Haiti can be so discouraging, so challenging.  The broken systems, exhausting.

We are PRAYING for Sarah, our hearts broken, our minds asking questions of what we should have or could have done.  We are PRAYING that the police were able to take her to one of the places on our list, we are PRAYING that she is SAFE.

Please pray with us.

A New Normal

The longer I’m here, the harder it is to write, not because things get less interesting or because life’s busy (although it is busy)…it’s just harder to pick out only one story to write about…or my stories are so harsh and real that I am even shocked when I write them down. 

 

Life here has become my new normal.  But nothing about it is “normal.”

 

It’s not NORMAL to have people knock on your gate to tell you they are starving and haven’t eaten for days. 

 

It’s not NORMAL to visit a family that’s living in a tent in the middle of the road and unable to feed their young baby and two other children living with them. 

 

It’s not NORMAL to have a 16-year-old show up at your house with a 3-month-old daughter and tell you her life story of growing up as a Restavek and being abused then and now.

 

It’s not NORMAL to have to always jump in the midst of children fighting, or adults hitting children and explain that this is NOT a way to discipline.  (Especially when two children are fighting and an adult goes to break it up by hitting the kids that are hitting….oh, the irony).

 

It’s not NORMAL to have to fight with an orphanage director for one of your students (who is a true orphan with no parents) birth certificate so she can take her school tests.

 

It’s not NORMAL for a precious 11-year-old student to look you in their eyes and tell you that they have a bad life or a 9-year-old student to tell you about how their younger brother was killed by a Voodoo priest.

 

These things are not “NORMAL” in my old world.  They are not NORMAL compared to how and where I grew up.  But here’s the reality.  All of these things I wrote above are “NORMAL” here in Gressier.  In fact, many of them are the USUAL for MOST of the world.

 

As much as my idea of normal continues to change, I am reminded how completely BLESSED I am to be involved in God’s amazing plan for this community. 

 

I am BLESSED to be apart of the way God is changing the NORMAL here in Gressier. 

 

I BELIEVE that it will NOT be NORMAL for people to be starving in Gressier, for babies to die from malnutrition or neglect, for abuse and violence to be the answer, for Voodoo and confusion to rule this city.

 

I BELIEVE in the vision from God for freedom, education and victory for this community.

Surrender.

(written December 25th)

As I laid on my back on the cool tile of my house… Music playing. ..Hands in the air.  Sweating, Angry, Exhausted, Sick, Frustrated.

Face towards Jesus. Hands reaching up towards Him.  Reaching hard.

My mind raced.

I suddenly had this picture of what surrender looks like.

Surrendering to the Lords will.  Surrendering my whole life, my ideas of how things should go, my plans.

It might seem like because I live in Haiti and Respire Haiti is growing like crazy that I “already” have surrendered.

I did, Once.  The day “I” made the decision to quit my job.  Then, again.  The day “I” decided to move to Haiti.  Then again when Respire Haiti Christian School started.

But to be honest my life, as is probably everyones, is a continuous daily, hourly, minute-by-minute CHOICE to surrender.

Surrender.

Sometimes it looks like losing.

Sometimes it looks like giving up.

Today it looked like taking a really deep breath, thanking God my girls weren’t hurt.  Praising HIM for getting us home in one piece.

Today, Jesus’s birthday of all days, was a day where I failed, and I mean FAILED to surrender.

The morning started rough as we drove about 5 miles outside of Gressier and there was a dead body, uncovered for all to see in the middle of the road (from a motorcycle accident).  As I tried to quickly distract the girls in the backseat of our car so they didn’t see- I just got angry.  Angry that this was the 3rd body in one week I’ve seen and had to cover my girl’s eyes.  Angry that once again these motorcyclists don’t wear helmets- angry at how sometimes life is just taken for granted here- angry that everyone was just walking past him like he was a pile of rubble.

 

As we tried to calm down and lighten up the mood we drove about another 30 minutes and all of a sudden there was a huge BOOM!  As I looked up a truck had veered quickly into us, smashed into our back passengers side and sent our car skidding.

As we assessed if Jess and Micha were okay (thankfully they were fine) we then got out of the car.  I grabbed my camera to take a picture of the car that tried to drive away but then it hit another car behind us.  I took a few pictures then walked over to see what the heck happened.  Just as I walked up a drunk group of men got out of the car- they immediately came over and started yelling.

As I could both smell the alcohol and see them stumbling about- I knew they had been partying all night long.  Here, Haitians party all night long on Christmas Eve to “celebrate” Christmas.

As I turned around, the drunk driver pushed me and yelled obscenities.  I couldn’t believe it and I just kept walking to the car.

We were near a police station so we headed there… as I saw two police officers, I then tried to explain what had happened.  As the police looked utterly confused as to why I was even asking them to come, they finally came to the wreck site.

They looked at the truck, which was slammed into another car and a lady was crying because her car was totaled.

Unbelievably, the drunk driver returns and starts yelling at me AGAIN.  He gets closer and closer and the PNH (Haitian Police Force) officer has to push him away from me.  As I look at the PNH dude and asked what’s going to happen- he looks at me pretty apathetic and says,“What do you want me to do?”  As if I was supposed to tell him how to do his own job.

As I go on to question- “Can you tell he’s drunk?  He hit my car and another car?”  The  PNH officer then looks up and says, “I can’t arrest him, you’re not bleeding.”

Somehow, some divine way- I turned around and just got back in the car.

I can’t even describe my anger with this situation.   Consequences for driving drunk in Haiti?  None.  Consequences for wrecking TWO cars in Haiti? None.  Consequences for harassment and assault?  None.

Frustration.  Disappointment.  And ultimately surrender.

By the grace of God- we made it to church (on time too!) and after church we went to bring toys to the orphanage where the Son of God girls were placed.  While we were at the girls home we happened to see someone who was working on their car and asked if they could check ours, they then saw a pretty important piece of our car was broken.  The guy immediately called his friend and said they could fix it before the day was over.

As I lay here tonight on the cold tile floor in the dark because our generator is broken and we have no electricity, I’m sweating (it’s the Caribbean)- my heart is still beating crazily, tears are flowing as the anger still bubbles up and the complete frustration surfaces again.

Graffitti in Carrefour, Haiti (The outline of the country of Haiti with a face inside the country and tears streaming)

 

Apathy. Corruption.  Unfairness.

I’m reminded of how I felt with SOG orphanage– a feeling of complete and utter exhaustion.  Hands in the air, BEGGING Him to do something.   Shouting from the rooftops…screaming, crying and yelling about this injustice.  TO ANYONE that would listen.

And then God meets me there.

Injustice.  Corruption.  Indifference. Greed.

It’s all here- It’s everywhere in the world but here in Haiti it is SO evident.  It’s out of hand.

But God.  God is bigger than corruption.  God is BIGGER than injustice.

With OUR surrender- He does HUGE things.  SOG orphanage closing is a beautiful example.   People said it was impossible. But God said ENOUGH!  And he did it.

Surrender  looks like not trying to FIX every problem or CHANGE every person’s mentality here.  It looks like doing what God has put directly in front of me.  Teaching, Loving, Helping that ONE child.

Sometimes it’s like treading water in the ocean but the undercurrent is SO strong you don’t go anywhere, you stay in the same place.  I feel that way sometimes but carrying hundreds of children with me.  And occasionally getting stung by jellyfish (haha).

Injustice.  Corruption.  Unfairness.  Greed.  Apathy.

Surrendering to HIS will, HIS timing, HIS plan is the HARDEST thing ever!

So as I calm down from the day by writing this- I choose to surrender everything.  Again.

And thank HIM for safety.  For the Beauty of HIS children.  For His sons birth.  And For my Girls Beautiful Christmas- even if we did eat Peanut Butter and Jelly for Christmas dinner because of our crazy day  🙂

Sunset in Haiti

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