Tag Archive: earthquake

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.

Where’s Gabriel? Part 1.

Where’s Gabriel?  Part 1.

Written Thursday September 30

Picking up Gabriel from the orphanage one day

I have gotten many questions about Gabriel and have not been able to respond, because it is difficult.  This is the hardest thing I have ever written about.  It’s a terrifying memory.  A heartbreaking event.  And though God knows the end, I do not yet, which breaks me, every day, every minute.

As I walked into the orphanage in Carrefour, Haiti for the hundredth time, unfortunately I didn’t think much would be different this time.  Starving, malnourished children suffering from completely preventable and treatable sicknesses.  Every time I would get near the entry gate I could just feel the evil emanating out, and the wickedness of the directors would send shivers down my spine.

The group that I met at the orphanage was visiting from Colorado and they were going to take all of the children on an “outing” to Gressier.  The bus was waiting outside…as they gathered all 75 sick, scabied covered children, who many had untreated sicknesses for weeks, the children made it to the bus, each trying to enjoy through their sickness, the excitement of something new.

The team was ready to go, sitting on the bus with all the kids they had gathered…I looked on the bus, and for some reason said, “I’m going to run back in and check one last time to see if we have all the kids.”  One of the members of the group said…”I just came out, there’s no one. “   Since I had been rounding up kids for nearly 20 minutes, I believed her, but for some reason I just felt like I should check one last time….so I went inside again.

As I passed through the courtyard.  No one.  Inside the halls.  No one.  I then entered one of the side rooms expecting again to find no one.  That’s when I saw a little child, sitting still with a light pink shirt on way to small.  He was gazing into the cement gray wall with an empty look of hopelessness.  There were two “orphanage workers” nearby, I asked who this child was, no one knew, as their face filled with almost disgust as I asked if this was either of their children.  I picked her up only to realize it was a him.  He felt warm and immediately went limp in my arms.  His sick body was broken….so I took him.  And this is where it started.

For the next 5 months, Gabriel began to teach me about redemption, healing, anger, sadness, hopelessness, hope, pain, fear, joy, beauty and that’s just the beginning.

Gabriel's First Bath 🙂

Although he went between the orphanage and my house numerous times from March to July, I was always thinking about him.  Thinking about his health.  His poor little sick body.  His spirit.  His hurting, broken, healing and beautiful spirit.

When he stayed with me, nights were hard.  His screams would fill the room and remind me that he’s had SO much practice perfecting his empty cry in an orphanage…in his cries I could hear the hope that if he was the loudest then maybe, just maybe someone would hear his cry and know his pain…so as night would fall and his body would become more fatigued his siren-like screams would begin and once again he would choose to sleep on the tile floor rather than his bed.

I was willing to fight for him.  To not sleep for days, weeks.  To pray over him morning, noon and night.  We were on the road to healing.  So close.  He started giving kisses instead of biting.  He started relaxing when being held instead of trying to break lose.  He started playing and laughing and smiling.

Gabriel ready for the beach.

But then reality set in again in June.  He was an orphan.  In a country where an orphan=money.  In a country where orphanages=business.  The director of the orphanage and his wife were both very aware of this.  Their orphanage is a business.  From October of 2010 until March of 2011, 53 children have gone missing.  Unable to be located.

To give a brief description of the chaos of the details.  Because of my unwillingness to give the orphanage director, what he wanted for Gabriel, I had started an uphill battle with the Haitian authorities about what was happening.

On the day the director was arrested.  My whole world changed.  My sheltered and safe life became SHATTERED.  I witnessed before my very own eyes the reality of injustice.  Of human flaws.  Of evil, pure evil.

I have to say, the Haitian police did a pretty great job with the actual sting operation.  Their plan, their follow through, their success was surprising, and impressive.

But the buck stopped there.  The Haitian Social Services branch, was beyond terrible.

If the government organization that is PAID to care and fight for these kids is too busy eating their lunch and listening to rap on their IPOD, then who the heck is supposed to fight for these kids.  I had a new VIGOROUS and FIERY passion ignite in me for this orphanage and for Gabriel.  And This was before the end of the day (when the unthinkable happened)….

As this branch of government visited the orphanage more worried about what they were doing this weekend than with the sickness, feces, scabies and filth that was in front of them…I couldn’t imagine how bad the day would end.

As they ripped, and I mean RIPPED Gabriel out of my arms at the end of the day…his nails clawed at my hands reaching back at him.  His face was TERRIFIED…his screams were ear-piercing…I looked back at him and felt like I was about to vomit, my heart was breaking and I thought I was having a heart attack.  I couldn’t breathe.  I couldn’t talk.  I couldn’t move.  “WHAT HAVE I DONE?” I thought frantically.

They locked him in a white vehicle with the windows rolled up.  But I could still here him screaming loudly.

I was forced into a car with some Haitian Police and other officials.  They said you will see him in “3 days”…and another voice chimed in…”no 7 days”….and the last voice states…”10 days”….as I felt my togetherness unfolding…I angrily said in English…”You have GOT to be kidding me.  If YOU don’t even know when I’ll see him againI’m NEVER going to see him again.  You guys have NO IDEA what you are doing.  I am NOT the bad guy here! ”  Tears streaming down my face…Anger bursting from EVERYWHERE.  One man chimes in in English (oops…didn’t know anyone spoke English)…and he says, “If you don’t believe you’ll see him, then fine, you won’t.”  Oh, great! I thought…what did I do?  I apologized quickly as I said with tears streaming down my face…I’m sorry, this is just overwhelming.  He smiled and said, “I understand.”

Here I am 69 days later.  Without Gabriel.  Without a word of his whereabouts.  Without even a hint at his safety.

The only thing keeping me going, is Christ.  Hope.

“I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.” Luke 1:19

As I read this, over and over.  I am waiting.  Waiting Gabriel.  What’s the Good News?  Where are you?  I pray you are safe.  That you are healthy.  Loved.  Secure.  I know…I BELIEVE…I will see you again.  I Am Searching for you…Please know…I Will NEVER give up.




Gabriel Blowing a Kiss


Too Much Rubble

“The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing.  There is too much rubble.  By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.”  Nehemiah 4:10

Every time I read this, three words stand out to me.

Too much rubble.

Anyone who has ever been to Haiti or maybe even seen pictures has had this thought—“Too much rubble”—they think and question, “How do you start over, rebuild, remove this rubble, there’s too much?”  Then you have the thought maybe briefly, maybe forever, that this task is impossible—

— And then you realize, it is impossible, for ANY human.

After being here for over 8 months, it is SO clear to me, by ourselves we will not be able to build it.

But the (re)building has less to do with the funds, the manpower, the organizational initiatives.  It has to do with on what foundation the rebuilding takes places.

Haiti is a country that was built on Voodoo.

People say that 30% of the country is Catholic, 60% of the country is Christian and 100% of the country is Voodoo.  Whether or not this is a true statistic or whether I believe this or others believe this is not the point, the point is the amount of confusion in this country.

Our God is not a God of confusion, He is a God of PEACE.   (1 Corinthians 14:33) When there is confusion it is NOT from Him….therefore, since this country’s inception over 200 years ago…Haiti has placed themselves smack dab in the middle of this confusion.

Haiti is a country that was built on slavery.  And what is slavery?  Injustice, Bondage.

Our God is a God of FREEDOM.  “For freedom Christ has set us free…” (Galatians 1)

In a place where there is STILL open and active slavery with the situation of Restaveks, God has SHAKEN this country and is shouting Freedom!

We here in Gressier have seen freedom in Christ in the form of this—- Education.

There is no free education in Haiti, in order to go to school you must pay a fee…then buy the matching uniform, ribbons, socks…not to mention books, school supplies.

Just imagine, creating a generation of children who become teens who become adults who CANT read…write…or think!

This is why God has empowered Respire Haiti with this vision to build a school for over 300 Restaveks and Child Slaves.

This is why God has shown Respire Haiti that the way to be rebuild does not begin with an actual building…it begins with building a foundation with Christ as the Source.  As the strength.

It begins with recognizing that Gressier is a community that will and can be rebuilt and CHANGED.  In a community that has had 70-75% of it’s buildings crumbled…where there are thousands of Restaveks…it can begin here.

It can begin with our 25 teachers and administrators who hurt when our children hurt…who know and believe 1 Corinthians 12:26

“…the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together…”

There is NOT TOO MUCH RUBBLE…Thank God for this scripture to encourage and empower us…“What is impossible with me is possible with God.” Luke 18:27

If you are interested in supporting Respire Haiti Christian School, please visit RespireHaiti.org or click here to donate!

Michaelle Building a school


Building Respire Haiti Christian School




Beauty from Ashes

1The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.

4They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.

Isaiah 61:1-4

Many times, the most difficult thing for me to do in Haiti is to see the “silver lining”.  To find the good in some situation.  To see the beauty in the chaotic world of Haiti.

Sometimes, the questions of WHY does this happen? and HOW are there so many hurting children? are so gut wrenching I feel like I can’t breathe.

It’s these times that the ONLY thing to do is look to God and KNOW, not understand, not feel, but just KNOW God is God and He is in control.

That’s the only way to SEE the Beauty that comes from the ashes.  The ashes, that in Haiti, are messy, and painful, difficult and confusing.

The ashes of knowing that there are one million…ONE MILLION orphans in Haiti…but the beauty to know that I see God changing that statistic one child at a time in Gressier, Haiti.

The ashes of knowing that 50% of the children are NOT in school in Gressier…but to see the beauty that 97 more children ARE in school because of what God is doing through Respire Haiti.

To know that these 97 kids have never had the chance to wear uniforms before…but to have 6 wonderful ladies and 1 wonderful man working on sewing the uniforms as I type this.

To know that MANY of the children in Gressier who are not in school are Restaveks, domestic servants, who do chores all day long…but to know that at least they get away for a few hours on Saturdays to eat and play and learn about Jesus and how LOVED they are.

To know that SO many people in Gressier are hungry to learn English and have never had the opportunity to before…until now, when more than 300 people show up every week to my English class to learn English.

To look out of my kids school every morning and see this reminder of the devastation…

But then to go behind the church and see the progress of building a Depot and Office for the school….and the beauty of seeing a community coming together and seeing many men and women from Gressier working…

Seeing the Beauty.  From the Ashes.  In the Ashes.

To take the brokenhearted, the defeated, the hurting, the hungry…and remove their ashes and replace it with Beauty.

The ashes here in Haiti are frustrating, complicated and sad.  But God is here….God is in the Ashes and God is definitely in the Beauty.

I am reminded of just how temporary the ashes are, and how temporary (even though very real) the pain is here on earth….the picture below was written on the board at school for the 4th graders…in English it says…“The Eternal is Our Refuge.”

Lord, thank you for Your beauty.  I know I do not understand why things are the way they are…why there are so many hurting and orphaned children here…why there are so many hungry children…I know I will never have the answers to all of my questions.  But the one answer I do have is You.  That You are Faithful.  God I know that You are our refuge, You are our rock.  Please continue to help me see the beauty rising up from these ashes…Help me to continue to love these children and encourage these children and adults.  Help me to show these people, It’s never too late to be loved.  Lord, please show me how to let the beauty rise from these ashes in Haiti.

Written March 23
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