Tag Archive: Obedience


Put on your own shoes :)

As I left the café mid morning one day and crossed the street, I had about 5 seconds to think to myself…”Well this is unusual…walking up the mountain by myself.” (I normally have one of my four kids with me or other children/people that are headed in the same direction walking with me).

 

Turning the corner to head up the mountain I was stopped in my tracks. I almost had to do a double take to make sure I was seeing what I thought. I glanced over again and saw a tiny child on her hands and knees. The lady hovering over her was dressed beautifully, and completely ignoring the fact that there was even a child beneath her. The child hurriedly put the shoe on the ladies foot. As the older woman yelled something down at her, she took her dress swiftly and wiped off the ladies’ shoes. As if the lady hadn’t even noticed what the child just did, she turned around and hopped on the motorcycle that had been waiting on her without saying one word to the child. The child picked up the set of flip-flops by her side and placed them in a bag. She began walking up the mountain, head down, watching her feet kick up the dust.

 

As I trailed after her for a minute my [righteous] anger began firing up, I could feel my face getting red and tears filling my eyes under my sunglasses. What in the world did I just see? Could that lady NOT have put on her own shoes? Can she not carry her own flip-flops? Did she REALLY just MAKE that little girl kneel down in the dirt in FRONT of Everyone?

 

I wanted to yell out to everyone who “pretended” not to see… “Are you okay with this?”… “Did you NOT see what just happened!?!”

 

After a few minutes of these thoughts, I composed myself and then called out to her. She didn’t stop. I gently called again…her pace slowed as she worriedly looked behind her. I reached out to grab her hand. Her sweet eyes opened wide. I introduced myself and I asked for her name…nearly inaudibly she spoke. I asked her again and her voice lowered even more, her eyes sticking to the ground. I asked her how old she was and she stumbled over her words making it obvious that she was not aware of her age. As I asked her where she lived she pointed to the top of the mountain.

 

I walked with her for a few minutes holding her hand.

 

Her demeanor began to relax and she answered my questions a little more comfortably. As I asked about her family, she then explained that she had been in the area for a few months. Both of her parents live in a city about 8 hours from Gressier. She was taken from them in January and yet wasn’t put in school anywhere here.

 

The mix of anger and sadness at this injustice boiled in me. I squeezed her hand and explained where our school was…her eyes widened again as she responded that she knew exactly where we were located. I asked her if she could come meet me later in the afternoon so we could talk more. Her face, giddy with excitement, lit up and she nodded yes.

 

As 1:00pm rolled around I anxiously waited for her to no avail. Finally, as I went on with my afternoon somewhat defeated, I nearly jumped out of my shoes when I walked out of the gate at 3:30pm and saw her. I knew that she would be perfect for our Jump Start program. (It is a class in the afternoon that specifically caters to children who are a little bit older but are on a 1-3rd grade level. The classes are smaller so that the children can get more individual attention.) Even though the year is almost over, I wanted to make sure we could keep track of this young girl and try and figure out more about her parents and her situation.

 

The day after we enrolled her, I passed by the classroom and my heart sunk. I didn’t see her. I was heartbroken and walked in the room to begin to ask the teacher. Then suddenly someone pointed and said, “There she is!” I couldn’t believe it. Even though the class only had 14 children, I didn’t even recognize her. Her smile was huge…she looked like a new little girl in her uniform, glowing confidently sitting amongst the other students.

 

The injustice of restavek children never gets easier. The way that some individuals can so easily disregard, disrespect and abuse children absolutely breaks my heart. And I know it breaks God’s heart.

 

HE has and always will orchestrate the children that should be (and are) in our school. I never walk up the mountain at that time. I never would have seen this interaction and this sweet child if HE hadn’t orchestrated it all.

 

The injustice may never get easier, BUT GOD is directing everything that is happening on Bellevue Mountain and I am just blessed to be a part of it all.

In The Trenches

I miss writing.  It has been nerve-wracking and a struggle to get words on paper (or typed) for some time now.  I was trying to get my thoughts down last night when I came across this blog that I wrote in April of 2015.  After reading it, even though it has been nearly a year since I wrote it, I still feel that it is as valid and true now as it was then.

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

As we drove one of our pregnant 17-year-old students home, my heart was in my throat thinking about how she just got kicked out of her mother’s house and we were now on our way to her boyfriends sisters house, where she was now living. Then, we passed him, a sweet man clothed only in an oversized pair of shorts crouched in the grass. My slight, “Bonswa” led to his glazed response of “Bonswa” followed by his quick “Koman ou ye? (How are you?)

My mind left our sweet student for a second to think of what this man’s story was. We passed him and continued to her house. We got as far as we could drive and stopped the car. As we got out we walked up the steep dirt path to the home where she was staying. As Steph, Sharon and I exchanged a few words with the baby’s father and our student, we soon left and headed back to the car.

By the time we passed the same elderly man he was now crowded with a dozen people. The immediate response from me was sympathy but then I saw what was happening, my heart filled…the neighborhood was bringing him some food….some water….trying to asking him questions. All to no avail, but still they were trying. He was obviously struggling with his memory and what was going on. As I saw some of the people who were helping were our professors and others I knew in the neighborhood, I stopped the car and asked about him.

As there seemed to be no clear plan one of our teachers asked me where he thought we could bring him. Making a few phone calls I tried to find a plan.

Bringing him to the police station we were met with laughter and absolutely no help except for one of our security guards (who is also a policeman). As the situation became more hopeless and the time grew on I realized that I needed to ask Josh to try and come and pick up this sweet, calm but lost man.

Josh came and picked up the old man. As he drove to the first hospital and was turned down he began praying for him. Hospital two and three were all to no avail as the last hospital wouldn’t even accept him because he did not have a shirt on. We ended up deciding to let him stay in a safe place of Respire Haiti’s.

As Josh came home from dropping him off half naked because Josh gave his clothes to this sweet man, my heart was crushed. The situation felt hopeless, like no one wanted to try and figure anything out for this sweet man except for us.

My mind began running as I selfishly thought, “We are in the trenches and it’s exhausting, and no one else has to deal with trenches like this” …The trenches of most third world countries. No systems. Corruption. Lack of education, knowledge and compassion. No one willing to help.

For us, this is exhausting and discouraging.

And then for a split second I thought, man this is impossible. So hard. Our trenches are just too deep….too dirty….too hopeless.

And then God clearly revealed to me, “No Megan. It’s not just “YOUR” trenches.” I felt selfish and then dug deeper. How conceded and selfish to think that “our” trenches here in Gressier, Haiti are the deepest, the worst.

Everyone’s trenches are different. God reminded me…You have friends who have recently lost babies and others who are struggling with infertility. You have friends who have cancer and are sick and others who are struggling with losing jobs and have trouble financially.

Are my trenches still worse?

No.

I was in the states a few weeks ago and was OVERWHELMED with the darkness I felt and saw there. Depression. Broken Marriages. Selfishness.

And then I recognized clearly…Everyone’s trenches are different.

My trench is NOT more important than your trench…your trench is NOT more important than mine.

The important part to think about is WHERE is Jesus in your trench?

Do I feel hopeless? Or hopeful? Do I feel alone?

Regardless. Bring Jesus in. Invite Jesus into your trench.

As I thought about driving past the people crowded around this old man. My flesh wanted to pass him but my foot pressed the break. I KNEW there was not an easy solution for this. And I KNEW that if I entered into this trench it would probably NOT be an easy one….

Are You willing to enter into someone else’s “Trench” …someone else’s darkness? Am I?

I can tell you right now, it WILL most likely mess up your plans, your dinner, your day, your week, maybe even your month.

BUT God, do you know what He is showing you or leading you too?

Pray for us as this sweet man is staying in a safe place tonight and we will hopefully be able to help him more tomorrow. Because what I am realizing tonight is that many times what I think are trenches are really mountaintops…bringing me closer to Jesus than I could ever imagine. Because ONLY HE can turn our deepest, darkest, most frustrating and hard things into moments where we SEE Him, FEEL Him, KNOW Him more than we ever thought we could.

Update: After Josh drove around the next day for less than an hour people kept directing him up into the mountains.  Finally after asking at practically every intersection a motorcycle driver recognized the sweet old man and heard he had wondered out of his house down the mountain.  Thank God, he was reunited with his family and is now safe!

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.

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)

%d bloggers like this: