Tag Archive: Reality


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.

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.

[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.

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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!

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