Tag Archive: education


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.

Meet Respire Haiti

The video below is a GREAT insight into the Respire Haiti team and it shows you the incredible things God is doing here in Gressier!

We are SO blessed to be a part of HIS plan for this community.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/62695548″>Meet Respire Haiti</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user17311688″>Respire Haiti</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

“For FROM Him and THROUGH Him and TO Him are ALL things.  To HIM be glory forever.  Amen.”  Romans 11:36

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.

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.

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