Tag Archive: passion


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.

Wrestling.

We’d been cleaning his wounds for nearly a week.  A terrible burn on his heel that was nearly to the bone, infected and dirty.  Him and his brother were all students in my school so I knew a lot about him, but not everything.   One day he showed up with a beautiful young girl, his sister.  As she looked shyly up, trying to have confidence, it was pretty hard to not notice her left eye was not intact.

Luckily we had a nurse with us at the time.  As she looked at her eye asking if she could see out of it.  The dreaded answer was no.  And then the story came out.  When asked how her eye became like that, the answer sent shivers down my spine, her mother beat her, and the rigose (whip made out of cow hide) went into her eye and blew her pupil.

Sometimes I feel like my blogs are broken records, telling a story of child abuse here in Gressier and then starting over again, I haven’t written in almost a month because of this.  Every time I TRY to write about something else, it’s forced and it just doesn’t come out right.

My heart was so heavy and writing is my way of decompressing, so I KNEW I needed to write soon, I asked the Lord to GUIDE me to something, because I was just about to give up writing all together…how many stories of abuse and violence can I write, how many can people read….and then I heard Him say…Go to Habakkuk.

To be honest, I had never really read this book.  As I started reading, I had to take a break because my eyes teared up and I couldn’t see the page.  I read the first few verses…and ALL I could think about was my community here in Haiti.

“O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will NOT hear?

Or cry to you, “Violence!” and you will not save?

Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?

Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.

So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.

For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.”

Habakkuk 1:2-4

As I read this, the words could have honestly been coming right from my mouth.  I feel so often that I am CRYING for help, and the Lord is not hearing.  Crying out against this violence, against this iniquity.  There are CONSTANT reminders of the destruction of the earthquake.  And the law here in Haiti IS TRULY paralyzed.  Justice is hardly EVER seen because of this.

After reading this, my mind raced….What’s the answer to these injustices?  This violence?  What is next?  I continued to read on and saw that the Lord answered Habakkuk…

“And the Lord answered me:  

“Write the vision;

make it plain on tablets,

so he may run who reads it.  

For still the vision awaits its appointed time;

it hastens to the end- it will not lie.  

If it seems slow, wait for it;

it will surely come; it will not delay.”  

Habakkuk 2:2-4

The vision.  I prayed over this.  What is my vision here?  Why did HE bring me here?  As I walk through my neighborhood there are tons of children stuck in terrible situations.  The restavek situation is the most unfair, violent and unjust situation I’ve ever seen.  It’s not hidden, all who walk by can see the terror of this situation and the injustices these children suffer.

The violence in my neighborhood.  The abuse.  The COUNTLESS times I am jumping in between sticks, belts, wire and children.

With all of the violence, abuse and child slavery here in Haiti it is SO easy to get discouraged.  To feel like what I am doing here is insane.  Expecting something to happen that seems IMPOSSIBLE.  But reading the words of the Lord saying:

“Though the fig tree should not blossom,

nor fruit be on the vines,

the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,

the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,

YET I will rejoice in the Lord;

I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

God, the Lord, is my strength;

he makes my feet like the deer’s;

he makes me tread on my high places.”

Habakkuk 3:17-19

The discouraging sites, the hard conversations, the abused children that we see every day in Gressier, it is challenging.  Sometimes it feels like my head is not going to stay above water, but then that is when the Lord whispers to me sweetly, “I AM YOUR STRENGTH.  You are not doing this Megan, I am.”  

The load is lifted again, and that is when I am able to see HIM growing our community.  I see the LORD  growing so MANY to be able to STAND UP and fight for these children together.  It is no longer just Megan who is fighting this battle against injustice here, yelling and starting waves.  Now there are other Haitian brothers and sister doing the same…we are, HE IS creating an army.  An army of people and children who KNOW what freedom is.  An army who chooses to be Christs Hands and feet.  An Army Who BELIEVES Christ is who He says He is.

Habukkuk means “to embrace” not in an affectionate sort of way, but to embrace like in a wrestler’s grip, twisting and hanging on in the hopes of winning.

Not My Life.

Going to visit my home state of Louisiana is so bittersweet.   It’s always difficult to leave Gressier, Haiti and especially my girls- but getting to see my family and friends is always refreshing and exciting.

But this time home was extremely difficult…I guess though the longer I’m in Haiti the harder it is to leave even for one week or 10 days.

I heard someone say that after living in a foreign country for a while that you reach the “time and place” where you aren’t home until heaven  (when I’m back in the United States I miss Haiti and when I’m back in Haiti I miss the United States).  That’s where I am, and it’s hard…

After speaking at a church last weekend many people came up to me and my mom and stated, “I could never do that”, and they’d look at my mom and say, “How did you let her do this?”  I loved my mom’s graceful answer of a gentle smile and a laugh because she knows that this is not something that she “allowed” or didn’t “allow”.  Instead it was a deep embedded burden from God.

Being from a close-knit Southern Louisiana family  (who ALL live in Lafayette- very close to each other) that STILL gets together with about 30 people every Sunday at noon for “Sunday dinner” and gets together for everyone’s birthday- it’s hard—I’ve missed birthdays, holidays, births, deaths, weddings…

Being here is not just giving up one thing OR making a choice that’s easy and that I believe in ALL the time…100%.

My decision is not a place.  My belief is not a calling “I feel”.  My decision is following Christ, and my belief is being in His will, wherever on earth that is and whatever that looks like.

I KNOW God has called me here to Gressier, I KNOW I am where he wants me, but that doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t break when I only get to SEE pictures of my twin cousins that were born,…or that my heart doesn’t jump in my throat when I get the emails about my family meeting for Sunday dinners, birthdays or celebrations.  (especially when they are having roast and rice and gravy…or crawfish etoufee!)

But sometimes, as much as I want to just turn around and head home to where I grew up, where I am comfortable and feel safe…I then read Luke 12…

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate His own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes and even HIS OWN LIFE He cannot be my disciple.  Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

“Hating…even His Own Life…”…

What a challenge.  A huge challenge.

Trying to get back into the swing of things after only a few days here in Haiti is challenging…it is hard to “Hate my own life.” ESPECIALLY when I have just returned from my “old” life….And especially When the world of America is so appealing…simple pleasures- beautiful grocery stores (with TONS of selections of cheese)…wonderful things like coffee shops and Target 🙂 …Chick fil a…hot showers…no bug bites…

The truth is, I love my family, more than anything…I love my friends, more than anything…I miss them, more than anything…that is anything, except for Christ…and HIS plans for me, for Respire Haiti, for the children and families of Gressier, Haiti.

What an impossible decision to make…to choose fighting for others families and children when I feel at times I am neglecting my “own”, biological family (and friends).  It is a challenge.  And many times leaves me disappointing others and in a place where I KNOW I am where God wants me but sometimes I ache to be with my family and friends.

The most important commandment….”And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Matthew 12:30

If coming to Haiti was simply a “decision” I made to move away, then I can tell you there is NO way I would still be here…

Simply because I in and of myself, am NOT that strong.

I am NOT strong enough to handle the overwhelming need, the poverty…the hurting, abused, neglected children…the enormous amount of slaves, child slaves, domestic servants…the young pregnant women, younger than me….

It would seem like because I am actually living here in Gressier, fighting for these children, building a school…living the day in and day out challenges…that I am unwaveringly following my “call” to Haiti…

The truth is, in the midst of such difficulty, sometimes my flesh cries out to run away…to be comfortable…to not be so “radical” in living…but then God calms my nerves…and reminds me what “Fighting for the Fatherless” looks like…he reminds me what “visiting orphans and widows in their distress” looks like…and then I am grateful.

Grateful to be used by Him.  Blessed that HE, a God who is SO big and doesn’t NEED me, has chosen little, imperfect, broken ME to be His hands and feet here.

God then reminds me that BECAUSE of my family I am able to be here in Gressier showing children what it is like to be loved.  Showing families what it means to be a family.  Reuniting lost, stolen children with their mothers and fathers.  HE reminds me because of where I came from and the love my family has for each other…that HE used THEM to show ME what unconditional love looks like.  And now, I have the amazing journey and gift of passing that forward.

To my family:  THANK YOU for your support, prayers and encouragement.  Even when sometimes what I’m doing looks crazy, you’ve been the first to be my board members, cheerleaders, encouragers and prayer warriors…I would not be here in Gressier building this school, feeding these children and being their voice without you.  I love you all!

In Memory of my Grandmother who recently passed away (9/23/23-8/21/11) As she battled with Alzheimer’s her daughters and sons were an amazing testament of unconditional love- through thick, thin, stubbornness and humor.  I love you Maw Maw and thank you for giving me your stubbornness, your strong will and MOST importantly your vigorous belief in prayer.

Love is Patient. Part 2

As I sat patiently waiting on the couch, it seemed like almost an hour, although I’m sure it was hardly 5 minutes…I heard a noise in the hall way and I stood up.  There he was walking hand in hand with a caregiver from the orphanage.  His head was down and his eyes were watching his feet.  He glanced up and our eyes met.  His step quickened and his smile that is burned into my memory emerged.

“Gabriel!” I yelled bursting into tears….he laughed and came forward hugging me.

God is good.  He is faithful.   He hears our cries.  He feels our pain. Soon after I wrote the blog Where is Gabriel? I had an “appointment” at the IBESR…after an hour of confusion, fighting, yelling, tears…and just plain not giving up…I was finally given the name of where he was.

In a daze and a blitz we arrived at the orphanage where he was “placed”.  They had no idea what Gabriel had been through, nor did they have any information or paperwork on him, he was literally just dropped off there.  I couldn’t believe that after all this time, I was face to face with him.  I couldn’t stop looking at him…as he played with my hair like usual and gave me kisses…I felt so complete with him in my arms.

I DO believe this is just the beginning,  although he’s in a “better” place, (because it’s not the terrible scum orphanage) he’s still an orphanage…I will keep fighting.   I WILL get him back.

 

With God, nothing is impossible.

He has NO paperwork, without paperwork, it is basically like he “doesn’t exist” in Haiti.  To get official paperwork, I need to find his mother, I only know the city of where his mother supposedly lives.  I don’t even know if Gabriel is his real name.  Therefore, I am now on a quest to go look for a mother to a child who was dropped off at an orphanage.  A task here in Haiti that is impractical.  But my heart keeps bleeding this truth…

With God, nothing is impossible.

Hope.  Christ.

Gabriel

I know this will not happen overnight.  But I will not give up.

Love is patient.

As I walked out of the orphanage and Gabriel trailed behind me trying to come…my heart exploded, again…I felt like for just a moment while he was in my arms that the pieces were put back together…but as I turned my back on his longing eyes and tears coming down his face…my vision blurred from me trying to hold back tears.

I left that orphanage knowing that this was just the beginning…even though he looked a little healthier, he had lost his smile, his happiness, his laughter.  He seemed like he was close to getting back into his world where nothing on the outside bothered him, he was almost numb, again.

 

I will keep fighting for Gabriel until he is safe in my arms.  No matter how long it takes.  No matter what it takes. 

That night when I got home, I read Luke 1:19 once again which had kept me going for so long…as I read past verse 19…I saw verse 20 and broke down…

“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.  And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”  Luke 1: 19-20

Love is Patient.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

LOVE NEVER ENDS.

Gabriel, I am PRAISING Jesus that I know where you are now…and I am BEGGING Him, BEGGING Him to bring us back together.  Please FEEL my prayers, let HIS angels surround you, every minute, every second.  Gabriel, I pray you know that you are not abandoned, you are not forgotten, I am FIGHTING for you…

To anyone and everyone reading this, please help me fight and pray with me.

Gabriel and Megan

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