Tag Archive: Hope


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.

Bleeding Hearts.

I believe that God looks at His creation often and is smiling, excited and His eyes are glowing with joy.

But then I wonder what happens to His heart when He sees the way some of His children are treated.

I am overwhelmed with emotion when our hearts break like His, when our hearts and eyes see things the way He sees them.

Sharon and Tachi found an elderly woman laying on the ground outside of the Café a couple of days ago.  Sharon called me and I came right over.  Looking down at her, her eyes were filled with a mix of something I hadn’t seen before….fear and joy.

As I asked her a few questions, I could tell that she might have had a stroke and was very lost and confused.  She couldn’t tell me anything about where she had come from, and the only piece of information I got from her was her name, Katherine.

She had actually been walking naked but someone near our Café had given her a robe to put on, so when we saw her she had on an oversized robe with a huge gash on her leg.  She smiled and told us that she loved us and as I thanked her and told her I loved her too.

 

My mind was overwhelmed…This is God’s child.  Lost.  Alone.  Hurt.

 

The amount of people walking past her broke my heart.  The way people stopped and stared made me so angry that I finally started asking them if they knew this woman, as they all would say no I would then ask them if they are stopping and staring because they want to help us.  Only one of the many passerby’s that I asked the second question to actually stopped and helped.

As the crowd around that was helping asked me what I thought we should do, I prayed for an answer.  For some reason in this situation all I could think about was calling 911.  Calling for someone to come pick up and help this elderly lost woman.

But there is no 911.  There is no Urgent Care Calling.  There is no Silver Alert.

As I waited for Mark to bring the car, Katherine continued saying that she loved us.  I kept thinking, please don’t say that, please don’t love us, we really can’t help you.

The Katherine’s of this country have few options.  They are forgotten.  My mind began doing the usual wandering of how important it is to have a place for these precious children of God that have spent their time here on earth and are in between the stage of earth and heaven.

 

When I put Katherine into the back seat of our car, I saw my precious grandmother.  I closed the door and sat up front, sunglasses on, tears welling up and thinking about her.

My sweet grandmother was an INCREDIBLE woman.  Strong-willed, compassionate, loving. (Hmm, maybe I’ve gotten some of this from her)  She raised a huge family of amazing people and her legacy lives on through this clan in so many ways.  She also had Alzheimer’s and was actually found wandering the neighborhood a few times.

I looked at Katherine and it meant more to me than I could explain.  I had to help my grandmother, but I felt like my hands were tied, my options were non-existent.  As we ended up bringing her to a hospital/clinic in the next city over that took her, for now, I felt defeated.

 

As I laid my head down that night, I could feel my chest tighten.  I kept thinking of how God’s heart must feel.  Every. Day.  EVERYDAY.

Overwhelmed with sadness.

Tears streaming at seeing His children naked, hungry, lost and hurting.

Seeing the Katherine’s wandering the streets with passerby’s stopping and staring but not lifting a finger.

 

I feel like ever since I moved to Haiti my heart has started bleeding and has never stopped.  The pain, sadness and suffering that are experienced every day are unexplainable.  And if it weren’t for PRAYER, an amazing team and the unwavering knowledge that God has SENT me here for HIS purpose and vision…I think I KNOW I would turn into a bleeding mess.

I know that the Battle has been WON….but being in the trenches sometimes it’s easy to forget that.  Because until we get to heaven, our heart breaks for what breaks His heart, and so my heart is bleeding, with His.

 

Please pray with me, for the Katherine’s not just here in Haiti but all over the world.  Pray for our team here that only God could have put together, for their courage, strength and endurance IN CHRIST.  And pray for all the bleeding that happens in our hearts here in Haiti.

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.

One by One.

~~

Walking up near the Kindergarten, a young boy stood looking at the ground under the tree.  There were a few other adults waiting for the Kindergarteners to finish school.  As I got closer, I could almost FEEL his embarrassment and nervousness.

I approached him and bent down a bit asking his name.  No Response.  I looked at him, hands in his pocket, eyes GLUED to the ground.  I asked for his name again, a mumble of something came out.  I had seen this scenario way too many times…I gently touched his chin to make his eyes meet mine, I looked at him intently and asked, “Are you in school?”No Response.  I knew what that meant.

Before I could even probe him further another man walked up and stood next to him.  I looked at the man and asked if he knew this child.  As he said yes, the story began to unfold.  This child was coming to pick up another child that was in school…so common, so upsetting, so frustrating and typical of a child in a Restavec situation.  I asked the older man why this child who lives with him wasn’t in school…he looked at me and quickly said, “I don’t have any money.”  

As one of our Directors of Respire Haiti Christian School and a former Restavek walked up, he looked at my face, heard my tone of voice and within seconds knew what was happening.  As loving and calm as possible we began discussing the importance of ALL children going to school, the way that our Father LOVES us and how we are ALL Children of God.

The older mans eyes fell to the ground…

Even though our school is FULL, I could not stand the thought of this child coming to pick up another child from school EVERY DAY for the next year.  We looked at each other exchanging some silent words…and the Spirit spoke to both of us together like He often does…we looked at each other and both said, He HAS to be enrolled in school.

We told the young boy and the man who he lives with that his first day of school would be the next day (Monday)…the little boy released a small smirk and it was the first snippet of emotion I saw…my heart was filled and I breathed deep knowing the Lord had just orchestrated this….

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jean Louis, 13 years old, NEVER been to school.  When Monday arrived, he was there bright and early.  As I grabbed his hand to walk him to class, his hand was limp and his eyes stayed on the ground.  I prayed silently as we walked…LORD SHOW him who you are.  REVEAL yourself to him.  Give him courage, strength and confidence IN YOU.  Help him to find his identity in YOU and NOT as a Restavek.

As we walked down to his classroom, I told him how he would LOVE our school.  That we would make sure he had a uniform, books and he would get to eat breakfast every day.  A small smile came out…

Jean Louis being introduced to his teacher by  the directress of the school.

That afternoon his “caregiver” came to pick up the Kindergartner and asked where Jean Louis was…classes were over so I asked him to walk with me to his class.  There we saw Jean Louis sitting with 4 other children and their teacher Monsieur Gabriel….going over the alphabet…as Jean Louis sat in the front row smiling and talking…my heart fluttered.  A SMILE 🙂  His life, his freedom…is beginning.

I looked over at the older man and said gently, “This is important.  School is important.  He needs to learn how to read, write and most importantly to KNOW that His Father in heaven loves him.”  The older man looked in the classroom and looked back at me…his eyes, not leaving the classroom, glistened as he said, “Yes, I know.  Thank you.”   I looked back up at the man and said quietly, “Don’t thank me, the Lord has done this and I’m just blessed to be a part of it.”  He smiled a gentle smile of understanding.

~~~~~~~

It is a CONSTANT testing of patience and resting in HIS Spirit to not just LOSE it and go crazy YELLING when this happens. (Yes I DO get worked up when there is such injustice right in front of me) Especially this situation, I felt like it was almost a slap in the face that someone had the nerve to send a Restavek to pick up another child at our school.  I can ONLY imagine the emotional abuse that happens when a child who is NOT in school and is forced to go pick up a child who IS in school.  It is ONLY by the grace of God that I am able to have some composure and PEACE that HE is fighting for these children, that He is USING Respire Haiti and the community of Gressier to fight for these Restaveks.  That One by One He is forever changing the lives of these children.

Please pray with us and join us in our fight!

“If one member suffers, all suffer together…” 1 Corinthians 12:26

%d bloggers like this: