Tag Archive: building

Remembering Haiti…

This week we remembered the earthquake that happened 2 years ago…a day that changed so many people’s lives…there is no way to adequately describe the journey, or roller coaster really, that so many of these men, women and children have been on here in Haiti.

The National Palace in Port au Prince.

There is no way that the community of Gressier that was so badly hit by the earthquake and experienced so much pain can forget January 12, 2010…their wounds are deep, they are still hurting and for some their scars are on the outside…but one thing that I realized this past Monday as I celebrated one year since I moved to Gressier, is that God is continuing to bring healing, positive change and encouragement to this community.

January 9, 2012 marked the official first day of Respire Haiti Christian School on Bellevue Mountain…

Words cannot describe the joy in seeing my 1st-6th grade children walk 2 by 2 up to Bellevue Mountain leaving behind their packed, one room church classroom and outside tarps and benches…

As they made the short walk up Bellevue Mountain…the excitement in their step and joy in their faces was unforgettable…

When they made it to the school they were prayed over by teachers and staff…

Then they prayed for each other and the next semester ahead….

They got excited to be seated in their new classrooms (still missing some benches) but happy to finally have a room of their own…

Our 3rd grade class (lacking some benches which were still being worked on) but happy to be in their new classroom!

Beautiful Bellevue Mountain.  FINALLY a place for them to play that is NOT surrounded by rebar sticking out or crumbled buildings and rubble…

But instead has plenty of room for them to run, laugh and play soccer (even if it is with a water bottle).

Tears of JOY welled up in my eyes as I took a deep breath and saw what God can accomplish when we are obedient…I thought of the times of unknown and how he showed up…I thought of the times where I didn’t even know if I would have enough money to buy groceries…I thought of the time when God told me HIS plans for this community…

Thank you to all who thought of Haiti this week, THANK YOU to everyone who has supported and is supporting Respire Haiti financially, with prayer, encouragement or visits which made this first building possible!  We are almost finished with our water cistern and beginning our depot and Kindergarten building now!  The children of Gressier and I are forever grateful for this life changing opportunity to see God so BOLDLY at work in our community.  THANK YOU.

There is no way I can even begin to put into words what God has done in my life in 2011…but I will try with few words, and many pictures 🙂

After starting Respire Haiti in November 2010 and meeting Michaelle in December of 2010, God guided my path to Bellevue Mountain in Gressier.  Moving to Gressier, Haiti on January 9, 2011 I had no idea what I would be doing…

The only tree on Bellevue Mountain

Over the past 8 months, Respire Haiti has purchased over 3 acres of land to build a school, library, pavilion, medical clinic and more…

Our recently acquired land, the top of Bellevue Mountain.

Respire Haiti Christian School started in a one room church in January 2011 with 97 children…with no uniforms, books, school supplies or even desks…

Students in March 2011

Ricardo using a chair as a desk, March 2011.
















Now we have over 350 students…with uniforms, books, school supplies, breakfast every morning and more!  For the first half of the year we continued to meet in the one room church, outside of the church and in another nearby location.  Respire Haiti Christian School will start 1st-6th grade in a new building on Wednesday January 4th, 2012!

Students in October 2011

We have seen children transformed by the opportunity to go to school…

Vanessa when I first met her in March of 2011

Vanessa now enrolled in Kindergarten at our school.

Taken out of situations of Restavek and other working environments…

Florencia during a school day last spring before she was enrolled in Respire Haiti Christian School.

And put into environments of learning…

2nd year Kindergarten painting with Water Color




We have seen how quickly things can happen in Haiti when it is GOD’s Plan…

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011


Hallway of first finished 6 classroom building, opening on Wednesday January 4, 2012 for 1st-6th grade.


Our first Community Activity was in January of 2011 with just over 70 children…

Now we have two community activities (feeding programs) every Saturday which feeds more than 700 children…

La Colline Feeding


We’ve also seen God’s hand move in amazing ways, through the closer of Son of God orphanage after 11 months of fighting for the freedom of these trafficked, abused and neglected orphans…

Son of God Orphanage

And though the fight for justice is not yet over for these children from Son of God Orphanage, the majority of them have been taken out of a situation where they were being abused, starved and neglected.  Praying that God continues to do BIG things in 2012 for these children and the justice they deserve.




And lastly, I have gone from not even thinking about being a MOM to being the Mommy to two beautiful girls who have changed my life forever.

Michaelle (8), Megan, and Jessica (4.5)

THANK YOU to everyone who has prayed, donated and believed in the vision that God has given me for Bellevue Mountain and the children of Gressier, Haiti.

A special thank you to our American builder, Kyle Fishburn, without him we might still be meeting outside under a tree 😉 and to Bernard Joseph, our Haitian backbone/superman that helps us get things done fast and right!

Kyle (aka Kyle the Builder, KTB) pointing out his ideas for the ceiling of the school, and probably teaching me some building techniques and construction lingo as well!

Happy New Year to All and please continue to follow our next endeavor of our 4 classroom Kindergarten as well as our two-story Library and Computer Lab!


Words.  Words are so powerful.  They are our way to communicate.  Communicate how we feel, how we think, what we want.

Sometimes I have walked through Gressier wishing that I didn’t know any words.  Wishing I didn’t know any Haitian Creole.  Wishing I couldn’t hear the painful questions or listen to the painful stories.  Things that sometimes I forget happen in the real world.  Children dying from Malaria.  Houses always leaking water.  Parents unable to take care of their children.

…As I walk to the mountain with Michaelle to check on the progress of the school we eat our granola bars on the way, before we know it we’re being followed by two beautiful pants-less children.  I take one look at my granola bar and split it between them.  Michaelle looks at me, takes a bite and does the same thing.

We continue walking up the mountain and see Diana and her sister carrying 5 gallon buckets of water up the hill.  Diana is 8, her sister is 5.  They were Michaelle’s neighbors.  As Diana sends a huge smile our way, I know that she is struggling.  Hungry.  Yet joyful.  Joyfully asking if her school…HER school as she calls it…will still open in October.

Walking a little further I hear my name called from afar, I look up and see 3 year old Elizabeth.  Beautiful, restored Elizabeth.  Back in March she was told by American doctors she would never walk.  Her mother and I (thanks to Tex) went to a hospital to hopefully be operated on.  As we explained how other doctors, nurses and midwives had looked at her legs and said that she had “severe leg length discrepancy”, the doctor from Boston, MA looked at us and said he’d try his best to operate on her today.  A few minutes later, after the X-rays, he called me in and said he didn’t see anything.  As I argued with him to do it again….three tries later he stated clearly, “I don’t see any leg length discrepancy.  She’s fine.  She can walk.”  As I was aggravated for the news I had to deliver to the mother, it wasn’t until I actually approached Elizabeth’s mother, that I realized what God had done.  I looked at her mother in the eye and said, “The doctor said she can walk next week if she wants.”  Here we are less than 6 months later and she’s running around every Saturday afternoon at the Bellevue Feeding (and she’s enrolled in our Kindergarten).

As we arrive on top of the mountain, we look around.  Michaelle points out again (for the beautiful millionth time) how we met on the top of this mountain.  She points to where she used to live and says they aren’t there anymore.  I look at her thinking quietly and wonder what is going on inside of her.

We walk a bit further in silence and look at the school being built.  Look at the tents near the mountain.  Walking hand in hand, in silence.  It’s a quiet moment and I realize that sometimes words aren’t needed to express oneself all the time.

And then Michaelle looks up and states boldly, “I don’t cry anymore because I’m hungry.”  My eyes tear up as my heart flips and my stomach turns.  She continues, “Jessica doesn’t cry anymore cause she’s hungry either.”  At a loss for words, I just look at her, smile and pick her up giving her the biggest hug and a million kisses.

My heart feels like it’s about to fall out of my chest and I remember the feeling I had leaving our house this morning…knowing I was tired and wishing that I didn’t know words to hear these people in Gressier.  I sat down under our tree on Bellevue Mountain overwhelmed with MY fear, MY pain and MY selfishness .  I looked at Micha smiling at the “Hello” one of the builders yelled at her, and prayed, “Lord, this is HARD.  Life here is DIFFICULT.  I used to think the second I opened my gate, I was opening my gate to the outside world.  But now I know even more than before, there is no separation.  I don’t want to ignore the realities here.  I don’t want to guard myself.  I want to HEAR.  I want to SPEAK.  I want to ENCOURAGE.  I want to LOVE.”

As Michaelle and I walked back hand in hand I thanked God for Words.  I thanked Him for Creole.  For Micha sharing her heart.  For her bravery and for her once again reminding me that life is NOT about me, I am here because God has called me to fight for these children.  To feed them physically, educationally and most importantly spiritually.

Words are beautiful.  Gifts from God.  Sometimes they are painful, sometimes they are not…  

Thanking God for ears to hear His Words He sends.

Jesus’ Voice

Every time I try to write a new blog I sit and stare at the computer for a while trying to organize a day or even an hour in my head.  I try to rationalize, or put into words what is happening here in Gressier…and it just doesn’t work.  Then, I settle for merely trying to put into small trivial words what my HUGE all-powerful God is doing here.

Haiti is such a hard, challenging and many times depressing place to live.  When people come to visit they consistently ask questions about ME or what I am doing…I LOVE answering their questions and having the chance to share Jesus’ role in all of this…

I can tell you right now, there is NO way I would be in a place where it’s so hot I even sweat in the shower…where I have seen more tarantula’s, frogs, roaches and disgusting, unknown insects here in Haiti (in my bed, bathroom etc) than in my entire life…where I can’t just hop over to Chick-fil-A or Starbucks or even to a grocery store…

I am not here because it is easy.  I am not here because I want to do something big.

Jesus’ voice is why I am here. 

His whispers and His shouting has led me here…almost everyone that has visited since Respire Haiti began has made comments asking if I’m tired, or encouraging me to slow down because I will tire out or burn out…and to be honest, every night when I lay my head down to go to sleep- I am exhausted and Praise God for a night to recoup- but God’s mercies are new every morning and I am thankful for that…because God has given me the blessing and amazing gift of waking up fresh every morning.

Someone who recently visited asked where I got so much energy.  And before allowing me to answer, he said, It’s God isn’t it?  I LOVED being able to smile and say, “Of course it is.”

Haiti is a place that has just the right amount of heat, frustration, sadness and overwhelming need to drive someone crazy.  People and organizations here always ask me “When does your contract end.”…or “How long do you HAVE to be here?” Haiti has the largest number of non-profit organizations per capita in the world…with over 9,800 nonprofits and 9 million people…the ratio ends up being about 1 non-profit for about every 1,000 Haitians.  It’s incredible and incredibly disappointing that with such a large ratio, there is still more need here than I’ve seen in any other place in the world.

The challenging aspects of Haiti also leave it as one of the places where people try to quickly fly in “fix something” and fly out…(that’s a discussion for another blog)…

But the questions and comments I have received from people (both who live in Haiti and visitors)  I have to take with a large dose of humor, confidence and point them directly to Christ…because OF COURSE, if this was just me…I would be EXHAUSTED.  ANGRY.  DEPRESSED.  I probably would have given up and gone home by now.  But it is not me.

Jesus’ voice is why I am here.  His whisper to return to Gressier.  His SHOUTING about fighting for these Restaveks and vulnerable children here.  His voice guiding me through building this school, and serving this community.  HIS strength, endurance and JOY.

I AM tired.  Every day.  Every night I get into bed and release the biggest sigh ever.  A sigh that releases me of mistakes, failures, things I have forgotten or things I did poorly that day.  I sigh knowing that GOD is leading me and as long as I continue to yield to Him every second of every day…things are happening just the way HE wants them to.  I sigh and ask Jesus why and how He trusts me so much and then I concede to the fact that He probably won’t answer that question.  I sigh and KNOW that I am imperfect, human and  completely dependent on Jesus and I thank Him that He is who He is.

I sigh, Smile and just PRAY for continued Obedience.  Faithfulness and Trust.

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