Tag Archive: Love


Faith and Family Multiplied

I have wanted to write about this for weeks, but it seems like the words couldn’t come out.  My sentences were incoherent and my thoughts were spinning…

 

People who have visited here always make comments about how they can see how easy it would be to all of a sudden have a house full of 20 children.  Our kids we work with come from a multitude of mostly terrible situations…restaveks, orphans, abusive situations…and after these peoples comments about having a houseful of children, I normally smile and chuckle a bit and then say my prayer of NOT wanting that…my mind spins with the amount of therapy, healing, prayer etc went into two children…

 

Having two children from restavek backgrounds has been a challenge enough, and we seem to have arrived in a beautiful moment where their past is their past, and God has grown these two girls into beautiful, healing and blossoming children.

 

But God knows OUR stories and OUR journeys WAY before we do.

 

A little over a year ago I received a call from a Pastor we work with saying that he was really worried about some people that had just moved near him.  In his words, “These people are VERY poor and they have nothing, can you come see if you can help them.”  As I got off of the phone with this pastor who lived in between a tent and a hurricane broken house, my mind spun with his comments.  I felt like I was in the MIDST of poverty already, so for someone to call me who already LIVES in poverty and express that they were worried about someone in poverty, I couldn’t imagine how it was.

 

As I arrived at the place where these people were, I saw two incredibly thin children with oversized t-shirts living under a tarp.  Their mother and father were dead and they were living with some “relatives.”

 

God knew that meeting these two children would only be the beginning.

 

As Respire enrolled them in school since they had never been before, I knew that I would be able to watch and monitor them more…but I had no idea what kind of relationship HE was starting.

 

Over the next 6 months we grew in relationship with not only the children but also the people “taking care” of them.

 

It wasn’t until a knock on the door in January changed everything.  You can read the whole story in a previous blog as it was fresh in my mind here.  But basically the 12 year old girl was kidnapped and brought to a Voodoo Temple.  Her 10 year old brother divinely led us to her.

 

As she began living in one of Respire’s houses, a few weeks later the 10 year old boy, her brother,  went missing.

 

Our hearts broke as we had only a faint idea of where he might be.  Josh and I prayed daily for his return and then as ONLY God can do….He rescued this precious boy.  You can read more about that story here.

 

With both of these precious children living on Respire Grounds we began praying fervently about these children.

 

After much prayer and support, we have…God has, grown our family.

I am so blessed to have a mother that is so supportive and encouraging, and friends and family who trust what Christ is doing in our lives here in Haiti.

And most importantly, I am beyond blessed to have an incredible husband who is a natural parent and is such a good Daddy to so many.   In his words, “6 months of marriage and we aren’t adding kids we’re multiplying :)”

 

The healing that needs to happen is huge.  We can definitely use your prayer.  Although their bodies are free, their minds are still in a battle that ONLY God can heal.  Please pray with us for protection, courage and healing.  Voodoo, oppression and demons are VERY real here.  It is a long process to understand and work through the things that our children have seen, heard and experienced.  We have been HONORED to see that God has already made remarkable changes and can only imagine the incredible plans that God has for these beautiful siblings.

 

 

 Johanne (JoJo) 12

JoJo

 Saintil, 10.

Saintil

CrazyBeachKids

Fam

And then there were 6 (or 7 if you count the horse on Josh’s shoulder)

[Follow up to God Knows the Ending.]

~~~~~

No one slept all weekend.  Everyone thought, prayed and cried for Sarah.  The Lord had TRULY burdened our hearts for her…this precious child of God that we could NOT stop thinking about.

Phone calls on the weekend were to no avail.  No one was working, Haitian Flag Day was Saturday so I think the whole country shut down.

After our team meeting this morning, I received a phone call from an organization saying that if we had not found a place for Sarah that they would like to take her.  Excited, I decided to try my luck calling the Police Station again.  I had another Inspector from the BPM  (Police for Minors in Haiti) and  wanted to try to reach him.  As someone answered the phone after the first ring my heart dropped…I closed my eyes and let the words flow asking about Sarah, briefly explaining her situation and then paused.

Silence.

Hoping that he would respond and not just say “I don’t know and hang up.”  He spoke slowly, “I think I have heard about her, hold on.”  As I waited for a few dreadful seconds he told me he would call back.  Praying that he actually WOULD call me back, a few minutes later my phone rang, he said that they in fact took her to IBESR (Social Services).  I asked if he had a number to the person he left Sarah with, again he said he’d call me back.  As the phone rang again he gave me the phone number.  After writing it down I asked for the person who I should ask to speak with…as soon as his words hit my ears I could feel my stomach lurch.  I asked him to repeat the name again.  He did.  I said thank you, got off the phone and sank to the ground.

The same IBESR agent who refused to help close Son of God orphanage, who knew me, who disliked me, was the person I needed to call.

Sitting on the ground for a second I composed myself enough to pray.  I could hardly dial the numbers through my tear-filled eyes and my shaking fingers.  I heard a voice answer on the other end.  As I repeated the same story I told the Inspector, the IBESR agent said yes,  stating they knew where Sarah was.  The person paused for a minute suspicious (rightfully so)….I explained again who I was, how I know Sarah, and that we had a place to bring her.

The IBESR agent then told me how Sarah had been brought to the Psychiatric Hospital of Port au Prince.

Baffled and frustrated, I asked what we could do?

Silence.

I explained that we could come today, right now and get Sarah.

Pausing, the voice on the other end sounded a little astounded.  “Today?  You will come get her and bring her there?”

I repeated, “Yes, we can come to IBESR, pick up an agent or whoever needs to come, pick up Sarah and bring her, today.  Right now.”

Again taken aback the voice on the other line stated, “Yes, please come.  I will go with you.”

GO WITH ME?  My mind FREAKED out.

I muddled out the words, “Okay, I will call when we are closer.”  Then thanked the agent and hung up.

Full of fear, terrible memories and shaking I felt like I was going to vomit.

I walked out of our office, and explained the situation to everyone.  Being nearly 10:30am, we needed to gather our stuff and go fast to make it all happen today.  We ran to the car….Josh ambitiously driving, Mark shotgun, Sharon and I hunkering down in the back seat..

Getting to IBESR in record time, we were received surprisingly quick.  As the Agent came forward, my heart lurched in to my chest.  I prayed HARD the IBESR agent would not recognize me.  The agent looked at me and said, “Who did I speak with on the phone?”  As I answered, I was asked to follow the agent into a room.

Walking into this tiny, bare office, I sat in a chair in front of a notebook.  The IBESR agents explained they needed my information and phone number and what I knew about Sarah.  I agreed to write.  Asking for a pen to borrow, I suddenly had 3 different men shoving pens in my face.  Writing down all the information I knew, the Agent continued to question how I knew Sarah, where were we going and even asking why we were doing this at one point.

Shocked, nervous and ready to find Sarah I answered the questions and then we were finished.

We headed out the door for the car, Josh, Mark, Sharon and I along with two IBESR agents.  As the agent I had battled with so many times sat in the front seat I stared cattyccorner at their face.  My heart was still in my throat and I had to keep swallowing hard not to vomit.  I couldn’t believe how many times I had looked at this person and BEGGED them to do something about Son of God Orphanage.   I couldn’t BELIEVE the frustration I felt when I asked this person why nothing had been done to close Son of God orphanage yet and the answer was, “The files are too high, I can’t reach them.”  The months of agonizing frustration, tears and anger were sitting in my FRONT SEAT.  The person who was keeping me from Gabriel was sitting 5 feet from me.

I closed my eyes tightly and prayed, tears welling up in my eyes.  Suddenly the Lord filled me with something so immediate I couldn’t believe it.

Peace.

Forgiveness.

Grace.

I thought of how we are ALL able to be REDEEMED.  Transformed.  Changed.

I breathed out and Josh and I began talking with the two agents.

We headed to the Psychiatric Hospital.

IMG_1275

The Psychiatric Hospital in Port au Prince.

As the Agent got out of the car to ask about Sarah, Sharon and I looked at each other holding our breath.  Coming outside again after a few minutes, No Sarah.  The Agent passed in front of us headed to another office.  Again came out heading back inside.  It felt like ping pong watching the IBESR agent walk back and forth and every time the agent passed my heart tightened.  PRAYING it was not hopeless, we all closed our eyes to beg for freedom.

Finally after what seemed like forever, a bright orange shirt walked swiftly out of the doors and sat on the step.  Without thinking I ran out of the car.  Hugging her, Sharon came out and sat on the steps.  We could NOT believe we were seeing her.  Sarah smiled and recognized us.

The she saw Mark.  She waved at him and she ran into his arms.  Josh followed shortly as she jumped into his arms.

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Mark holding Sarah!

Continuing on into the car.  Sarah rotated between my lap and Sharon’s.  We noticed the marks on her wrist from restraining her.

Sarah

Sarah’s wrists with marks from being tied over the weekend.

Our hearts broke with what happened to her while she was here.

As we headed to Neply, to bring her to My Life Speaks we felt excited, and finally let out a long sigh of relief.   Even if we were right here HOLDING IBESR’s HAND through it all at least we MADE them do their job!  Most of the car ride was spent with the Agent trying to take care of Sarah’s paperwork on the phone and calling the doctor from the Psychiatric Ward.  The agent briefly stated that she was thankful we did something today, because the Psychiatric Hospital said they were not going to let her stay there more than 3 or 4 days.

Not wanting to think of where Sarah would be if she were “released” from the hospital, we watched her sleep peacefully.

After record time from Port au Prince to Gressier, we arrived near Leogane.  Entering in to My Life Speaks Campus I saw Katie who had helped us so much during this whole process.  My heart was filled, relieved and Thankful for the Beauty of the Body of Christ.

Sharon and I stayed a bit with Sarah to make sure she was okay and after a few minutes of paperwork, the two IBESR agents hopped back into the car with Josh driving and Mark accompanying him.

Josh and Mark not only had some amazing conversations with the Agents about life, God and Haiti, but the two workers also expressed how they would love to come to Respire and My Life Speaks again.  They exchanged personal information and vowed to keep in contact.

Redemption.

Forgiveness.

 

Grace.

The one person who was hindering us from closing SOG for so long was the only one willing to help us this time.  Thankful God can do the impossible and change hearts 🙂

Our hearts are at peace, our minds are at rest and Sarah is safe.

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Sarah when we left her with My Life Speaks.

Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your emails and messages and thank you My Life Speaks for helping us rescue a child and give a child a chance at LIFE and FAMILY!

Growing Humbly.

As I walk the roads and trails of Gressier, without fail, I hear a child scream.  Wailing in pain.  In fear.  If I can find them, I try to stop it…to talk to the adult that is beating them.

So often I walk past children “playing” games together pretending to beat each other.  Pretending to throw rocks at each other and hurt each other.

Every day as I walk past the trash piles in Gressier, my heartbreaks at how this country, God’s beautiful creation, looks because people don’t know how to pick up their trash.

Many days we play games counting how many people we will see peeing on the side of the BIG main road without regard to people, children passing.

It’s not cultural to fight, to beat and abuse children, to pee in public, to throw trash on the ground – those have been negative behaviors that have been learned, ACCEPTED and NEVER challenged or rerouted.

Respire Haiti is here to CHALLENGE and CHANGE these negative behaviors and to help point people to Christ so that they can learn to love, respect and honor each other.

I am humbled to say (finally and after struggling over the last 6 weeks with this realization) that our “Feeding Program” is not working anymore.  It was successful in the beginning, over 300 meals were served every Saturday- we succeeded in bringing children together.  We succeeded in children getting to know their neighbors.  We succeeded in sharing Christ with these children, teaching them about their identity and loving them.  But as our program has grown, so have the problems—children disrespecting other children, hitting, fighting, throwing trash on the ground.  Now the easy thing to do would be to just end the program.  And to be honest after I was just fed up with the children fighting (and play fighting) on Saturday I DID cancel it one weekend.  But then, the Lord reminded me-

He NEVER said this would be easy.

As my heart softened, I knew we had to change this program.  We had to grow with the needs of our children…

Two weekends ago we piloted a new program- changing Respire Haiti’s feeding program to a Mentorship/Discipleship Program.  We separate the children by age, put them in classes (on our school campus) and then teach them about a topic.  The first week we taught on respect, the next tolerance, last week we taught them about respecting the environment.  We are eager to talk about violence, hitting, loving each other, kindness, compassion…………

We read stories, give them examples, explain the importance of the subject, CHALLENGE their behavior and show them in scripture where the Lord calls us to do this!

MANY of the kids in this program don’t go to school.  And Now, we have all ages in this program, young children to mid-20’s.  Challenging.

There are times when visitors come and ask, “Why don’t you just tell the older kids to go away so the young children can eat.”

I wish my first answer would be, “Because the Lord calls us to FEED the hungry….not just the hungry CHILDREN.”  But to be honest…I usually go into an explanation about how we don’t have a wall around our school…about how we started construction without a wall around our property…about how we don’t have the ability to just say, “Get off our land!” without any closures around.

The reality is, the Lord has USED this for HIS Glory.  The Lord has USED this to teach me, mold me and show me HIS way.  Respire Haiti has never felt obligated to put a wall around our school property.  We’ve been busy working and kept buying more land, so it didn’t make sense.  And the truth is, that God has used this to FORCE us to open our eyes to ALL the needs.  We CANT close the door to our gate.   We CANT turn our eyes.

Now This program is MORE tiring, difficult and frustrating.  But it’s right, good and how we believe Jesus wants HIS Kingdom to be furthered.

What this situation has also done, is shown me how DESPERATE these children and young adults are for SOMETHING, ANYTHING.  For opportunity.  For guidance.  For mentorship.

Now with our plan of separating the children into age groups…we are able to reach them at their own level.  To teach them at a level they understand.  To GIVE them responsibility and an opportunity for Leadership in their country and in their community.  And the chance to share a meal together.

Everything was really tied in together this past Saturday…mentoring, feeding, meeting the needs.  There was a little boy that one of our interns saw that kept passing out…at first they thought he was falling asleep but then they realized he wasn’t sleeping.  As they brought him over to me, his eyes were glazed, he was lifeless and he was just staring into the distance.  As I tried to ask questions he wouldn’t respond.  Finally a little girl a few years older than him walked up and said, “He’s hungry.”  I looked at her, looked at this precious 4 year old and then asked when was the last time he ate….as she looked at me and said “Yesterday.”…I looked at my watch….4:57pm.  My heart broke as we grabbed a plate of food and Alex began feeding him, shortly after, one of the older children in our program came and took over feeding the little boy.  A little while later, I felt a tug on my shirt and turned around to have my leg embraced by this beautiful, now lively, child of God.  I was reminded…THIS is why we do this.  We are FEEDING.  We are TEACHING.  We are LOVING.  We are GROWING with this community.

To find out more information or to partner with us in our Discipleship/Mentorship Program please email respirehaiti@gmail.com

Our God is Healer.

Half asleep and trying to remember if the girls had everything they needed for school, I walked Micha and Jessica down the stairs.  As I bent down to kiss them bye, my eyes were drawn to someone sitting outside on my step.

I walked over and saw a small, young woman holding a tiny, lethargic child.  As I asked her what was wrong with him, she explained that she had been to the hospital with him almost a month ago because he was having diarrhea and throwing up.  She said they gave him medicine for both of these things, but the medicine was finished and nothing changed.

As I looked at this child whose eyes could barely open and who at nearly 2 years old didn’t even have the strength to hold his head up, I knew we had to act soon.  I felt his head.  No fever.  Felt his belly.  BURNING up.  Probably a parasite.  Looked at his fingernail bed and in his eyes, they were almost white.  Severe anemia.  SO skinny except for his belly and full head of red/orangish hair.  Severe Malnutrition.

I called our friend who is a doctor in Port au Prince and told him what was happening and the child’s symptoms.  He was able to get us an appointment immediately with a doctor only about an hour away. (Praise God!).

For the next week his mother Darlene brought him by our house at 8:00 am sharp so I could check on his medicine, make sure he was eating and just get to know them.  Religiously, she brought him early every day.  We talked about where she was from and how she ended up in Gressier.

As the story began to unfold even more we found out more about her living situation and her plan.  She was planning on bringing Jezilo to an orphanage after he was feeling better, because she wanted to find a job.  After finding out this plan and that she was sleeping under a kitchen table in a house that they were about to get kicked out of, I asked her and her precious baby boy to come live with us.  And asked her to come work with us.

 

Jezilo (or Baby J, as he’s been nicknamed) and his mom Darlene have lived with us for almost 2 months now.  It has been such a joy to see her be mentored by Tachi (our amazing Haitian superwoman who lives with us and also has a 2 year old).  Tachi has taught her so much and modeled so much of how to love, care for and be gentle with her baby.

I never cease to be in awe of God’s timing, his omnipotence, his path.  To see another story of healing right in front of my eyes brings so much joy to my heart.  Jezilo is the most precious, joyful but gentle child that loves dancing, singing and smiling.

It is Amazing to see God as healer.  And Even more amazing for my girls to see the healing power of God.  They still talk about when they would try to play with him and he would cry and scream.  They remember seeing him in pain, confused and mad.  But they understood what was happening.  About a week into meeting Jezilo, Jessica tried to touch his face, as Jezilo pulled away angrily, she gently looked at him and said,  “It’s okay, when Jesus heals you, you will want to play with me.”

 Now, this little boy loves playing (or is tortured sometimes) with Micha and Jessica.  He LOVES dressing up and is a beautiful and changed child.  A Healed Child.

In Exodus 15:26 God proclaims…“for I am the Lord, your healer.”   

Jehovah Rapha.  Literally meaning, the Lord who makes bitter things sweet.  Healer God.

 

Jezilo is a running, laughing and joyful example of who Jehovah Rapha is.  God the Healer.  OUR Healer.

 

 

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