Tag Archive: restaveks


Dear Dada.

There are many things that happen in Gressier that rock my world…some in an amazing way…some in the most disturbing and disheartening way…this was unfortunately something that rocked me to the point of tears, nausea and begging God – please be aware that this blog is tough and really shows some of the darkness of Haiti.

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As I turned the corner onto my street, my mind was thinking about a million things until I heard a SCREAM and a cry for Help.

I stopped in the middle of the road and waited for a second…surely I didn’t hear that right.  Maybe she had just fallen and was hurt?  Maybe she was playing?

As I waited a second more, the screaming, yelling and begging to stop continued.   I turned around quickly and rushed to the house…as I got closer to the gate I realized it was open….I peaked in and saw someone hovering over one of the little girls in Michaelle’s 1st grade class.  She had two thin sticks in her hand and was BEATING Dada over and over as Dada laid helpless on the ground trying to defend herself….

I opened the door all the way and ran in….I ran up to the girl beating her (who was about my age)…my heart raced and without thinking I RIPPED the sticks out of her hands.  As she looked at me with eyes of FURY….I couldn’t believe I had just seen her beating this child…

I asked her what in the world Dada did…and she began yelling about how she never listens, she’s disobedient, she doesn’t do what she is told…I tried to calm down and ask her what she was told to do that she didn’t do….the girl yelled back at me that she refused to pick up the leaves off of the ground….

Dada looked up at me with the most scared and helpless eyes…the same helpless eyes that I remember from back in October when Jessica, Michaelle and I turned the corner of our street to head to their first day of school…I remember seeing a child through a sliver in the gate sitting on a cement block surrounded by dishes just washing.  I remember stopping, looking through the gate and having a flashback of Michaelle washing dishes just like that…Knowing there was NO way I could or wanted to pass her every day for the next year bringing my girls to school, I stopped at her house on the way back and enrolled her in our 1st grade.  Dada’s eyes stayed with me.~~

After trying to reason with Dada’s “caregiver” and her daughter (who was the one who had done the beating), I realized that in the midst of all this anger, there was no way that I would be able to explain how what they were doing was wrong.  That no matter what they THINK she is NOT a piece of “property”…that they don’t “Own” her…

I walked back to my house to give everyone some time to cool down…I PRAYED nonstop and returned back to the house in a much more calm manner…Explaining this part is nearly impossible…because it’s in times like this where Creole flows from my mouth and I don’t even know what I’m saying….I remember trying to explain to Dada’s caregiver (and her daughter) that ABUSE is illegal…that BEATING a child is NOT okay….I remember her yelling at me that Dada doesn’t listen…that I don’t understand because children in America listen… (HA! Right?)

After more than 15 minutes of explaining how Dada is NOT property…how God does NOT want us to treat children like this…how there are other ways of disciplining and punishing…and so much more, I felt like I had said my peace and that I needed to trust God to change their heart….not my own words.

Ultimately, I left Dada’s house that day feeling so helpless.  Feeling completely frustrated with the “way people handle children” here in Haiti.  After calling the “appropriate” people in Haiti, I still felt like I hadn’t done enough.  My heart was broken….bleeding…open to a WHOLE new side of my children at Respire Haiti’s school that are Restaveks…a side of their lives that I was aware of, had been told about but hadn’t been in the middle of….until now.

As I walked around in a kind of trance for the rest of the day, my heart kept bleeding and my mind kept turning.  Lord, how do we fix this?  Lord, why does this happen?  Lord, what is going on?

My brokenness over this continued to consume me…but where there is brokenness, Praise God there is healing….

Our God is Healer.  Our God REDEEMS.  Our God gives us overflowing grace and mercy.

A few days after this incident Dada’s “caregiver” pulled me aside and asked for a job here in Gressier in our school kitchen….my heart halfway stopped…we JUST finished our kitchen the week before at Respire Haiti Christian School…Soeur Jacques had JUST told me that she needed some more people to help her cook the 2,000+ meals per week she was cooking.  As this lady looked up at me and asked me this question…everything…EVERYTHING in me wanted to shake my fist at her and tell her she doesn’t DESERVE this job…she doesn’t DESERVE to even ASK me for anything….EVERYTHING wanted to yell that at her…EVERYTHING except Christ’s voice calming me saying….Do YOU “Deserve” Everything I Give YOU?  Grace.  Forgiveness.  Mercy.  Love.  MORE GRACE.

I looked into her eyes…I paused for a moment and looked down…as I closed my eyes I GAVE up…I gave up the idea of trying to PUNISH her for letting DADA be beat….the Lord calmed me as I looked back at her and said…I will check on things.

As I walked away from her…the hardened layers around my heart toward her began to peel away….I thought of her life….I thought of her past….I thought of her story and journey….and then I thought about REDEMPTION.  I thought about how she WAS excited when I put Dada in school last October….about how I had seen glimmers of care and concern in her for Dada…..

I thought about Soeur Jacques our head cook….about her AMAZING LOVE for this community, for cooking…I thought about how she prays over the pots and the food before she begins cooking…I thought about her heart for the Lord….and my heart softened as I realized what God was doing.

I called Soeur Jacques to explain what had happened and she gladly accepted a new person to help and disciple.

Change.  Changing a community like this is HARD.  Through education, through relationship, through discipleship.  It’s HARD.  IF it were up to ME…I would run around pulling sticks out of people’s hands and yelling like a mad woman… sometimes I want to take all of our Restaveks out of their homes and SAVE them…but it’s not up to me.  CHRIST has different plans…Plans of ENDING child slavery in Gressier and in Haiti through educating people, through teaching, discipling….Oh, the PRECIOUS way of JESUS is SO much better than mine. 

Please pray with me for strength, for courage…Pray for Gressier…for the people here and the FREEDOM that we desire for these Restaveks.

The enemy is Not Happy.

Walking through the Miami airport last night this feeling came over my whole body.  It felt like I couldn’t breathe, as I walked to baggage claim my heart beat fast and anxiety crept in.  I couldn’t figure out why I was anxious…was it because I was traveling?  Was it because I hadn’t seen my girls in so long?  Or was it because I was sad to leave and nervous?  But as I answered NO, to all of these questions, the anxiety didn’t go away.

 

I decided to get a hotel room since I could tell it would be a long night of fighting off whatever it was that had crept into my heart and mind.  As soon as I entered the hotel room at 10:30pm it got worse.  I prayed to not be anxious.  And I realized this feeling was not anxiety.  I prayed to not be fearful.  And I realized that this feeling was not fear.  Finally, I knew what it was.  Oppression.  My heart beat faster as I became keenly aware of the spiritual oppression almost tangible in the air.  I prayed. It thickened in my room as I crawled into bed.  I called one of my good friends who spoke Truth into me and prayed for me.  And then I tried to go to bed again.  The oppressive feeling grew…I grabbed my bible and read a few verses…I switched on and off the light, opened and closed my bible at least a dozen times trying to work past this feeling so I could go to sleep.  As my eyes became heavy and my mind was racing through scripture….I slowly dozed off to sleep for an hour…as I was awakened by my alarm I sat up quickly, checked my heart and immediately praised God for feeling better.

 

I quickly jumped in the shower, packed up and headed to get on the plane to Port au Prince.  In the Miami airport the oppression returned but my excitement to get home and see my girls at the airport (they didn’t have school- Mardi Gras)  overshadowed any other feelings I was having.

 

Through the ride on the airplane I was lucky enough to sit next to a guy with a very interesting job working with aviation here in Haiti…so thankfully I was pretty distracted.

 

The second I stepped off the plane it was like a HUGE cloud of oppression surrounded me again.  This feeling met with the thick, hot air of Haiti was like a recipe for disaster.  As we got on the bus to get our luggage, I witnessed a young girl step off the bus to run away and puke in a corner outside, I thought that maybe I was next.  I had felt spiritual warfare before, but NEVER this strongly and for this long.

 

I continued to pray the whole way through immigration and customs and was finally met by the sweet, beautiful faces of my girls.  My heart rejoiced and I felt a peace with finally seeing them!!!

 

Through dinner and as I put them to bed I could feel the oppression creeping in again…I began singing as we bathed.  My girls and I prayed vigorously with Rita downstairs before heading upstairs when finally I felt like I could breathe again.  I could feel the OVERCOMER overpowering the Oppression.

My heart felt released.  As I worked through (and discussed) this oppression I just KNEW this was going to happen sooner or later.  Where God is doing SO many amazing things, the enemy gets angry.  When God is growing, loving and teaching amazing vessels, the enemy feels threatened.  Respire Haiti is a THREAT to the enemies plan to destroy…and because Respire Haiti is truly GIVING these children a new life by teaching them their identity in HIM….the enemy cringes.

 

I know that over the next few days and months and years this will not be the first time this happens.  The enemy is angry because GOD IS SUCCEEDING.  God is CHANGING Gressier and the people here.

 

This does NOT make him happy.

 

After returning to Haiti refreshed and renewed spiritually and with spending HOURS and HOURS of time researching laws, restaveks, education and childrens rights and speaking to many individuals who have worked on this for years, I have never felt so EQUIPPED to FIGHT for these Restaveks and vulnerable children in Haiti.

 

I KNOW that the spiritual warfare will not stop here or now.  But, God is STRONGER,  He is more Powerful and most importantly He has already won the battle.  🙂

There is no way I can even begin to put into words what God has done in my life in 2011…but I will try with few words, and many pictures 🙂

After starting Respire Haiti in November 2010 and meeting Michaelle in December of 2010, God guided my path to Bellevue Mountain in Gressier.  Moving to Gressier, Haiti on January 9, 2011 I had no idea what I would be doing…

The only tree on Bellevue Mountain

Over the past 8 months, Respire Haiti has purchased over 3 acres of land to build a school, library, pavilion, medical clinic and more…

Our recently acquired land, the top of Bellevue Mountain.

Respire Haiti Christian School started in a one room church in January 2011 with 97 children…with no uniforms, books, school supplies or even desks…

Students in March 2011

Ricardo using a chair as a desk, March 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now we have over 350 students…with uniforms, books, school supplies, breakfast every morning and more!  For the first half of the year we continued to meet in the one room church, outside of the church and in another nearby location.  Respire Haiti Christian School will start 1st-6th grade in a new building on Wednesday January 4th, 2012!

Students in October 2011

We have seen children transformed by the opportunity to go to school…

Vanessa when I first met her in March of 2011

Vanessa now enrolled in Kindergarten at our school.

Taken out of situations of Restavek and other working environments…

Florencia during a school day last spring before she was enrolled in Respire Haiti Christian School.

And put into environments of learning…

2nd year Kindergarten painting with Water Color

 

 

 

We have seen how quickly things can happen in Haiti when it is GOD’s Plan…

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

 

Hallway of first finished 6 classroom building, opening on Wednesday January 4, 2012 for 1st-6th grade.

 

Our first Community Activity was in January of 2011 with just over 70 children…

Now we have two community activities (feeding programs) every Saturday which feeds more than 700 children…

La Colline Feeding

 

We’ve also seen God’s hand move in amazing ways, through the closer of Son of God orphanage after 11 months of fighting for the freedom of these trafficked, abused and neglected orphans…

Son of God Orphanage

And though the fight for justice is not yet over for these children from Son of God Orphanage, the majority of them have been taken out of a situation where they were being abused, starved and neglected.  Praying that God continues to do BIG things in 2012 for these children and the justice they deserve.

 

 

 

And lastly, I have gone from not even thinking about being a MOM to being the Mommy to two beautiful girls who have changed my life forever.

Michaelle (8), Megan, and Jessica (4.5)

THANK YOU to everyone who has prayed, donated and believed in the vision that God has given me for Bellevue Mountain and the children of Gressier, Haiti.

A special thank you to our American builder, Kyle Fishburn, without him we might still be meeting outside under a tree 😉 and to Bernard Joseph, our Haitian backbone/superman that helps us get things done fast and right!

Kyle (aka Kyle the Builder, KTB) pointing out his ideas for the ceiling of the school, and probably teaching me some building techniques and construction lingo as well!

Happy New Year to All and please continue to follow our next endeavor of our 4 classroom Kindergarten as well as our two-story Library and Computer Lab!

Beauty from Ashes

1The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.

4They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.

Isaiah 61:1-4

Many times, the most difficult thing for me to do in Haiti is to see the “silver lining”.  To find the good in some situation.  To see the beauty in the chaotic world of Haiti.

Sometimes, the questions of WHY does this happen? and HOW are there so many hurting children? are so gut wrenching I feel like I can’t breathe.

It’s these times that the ONLY thing to do is look to God and KNOW, not understand, not feel, but just KNOW God is God and He is in control.

That’s the only way to SEE the Beauty that comes from the ashes.  The ashes, that in Haiti, are messy, and painful, difficult and confusing.

The ashes of knowing that there are one million…ONE MILLION orphans in Haiti…but the beauty to know that I see God changing that statistic one child at a time in Gressier, Haiti.

The ashes of knowing that 50% of the children are NOT in school in Gressier…but to see the beauty that 97 more children ARE in school because of what God is doing through Respire Haiti.

To know that these 97 kids have never had the chance to wear uniforms before…but to have 6 wonderful ladies and 1 wonderful man working on sewing the uniforms as I type this.

To know that MANY of the children in Gressier who are not in school are Restaveks, domestic servants, who do chores all day long…but to know that at least they get away for a few hours on Saturdays to eat and play and learn about Jesus and how LOVED they are.

To know that SO many people in Gressier are hungry to learn English and have never had the opportunity to before…until now, when more than 300 people show up every week to my English class to learn English.

To look out of my kids school every morning and see this reminder of the devastation…

But then to go behind the church and see the progress of building a Depot and Office for the school….and the beauty of seeing a community coming together and seeing many men and women from Gressier working…

Seeing the Beauty.  From the Ashes.  In the Ashes.

To take the brokenhearted, the defeated, the hurting, the hungry…and remove their ashes and replace it with Beauty.

The ashes here in Haiti are frustrating, complicated and sad.  But God is here….God is in the Ashes and God is definitely in the Beauty.

I am reminded of just how temporary the ashes are, and how temporary (even though very real) the pain is here on earth….the picture below was written on the board at school for the 4th graders…in English it says…“The Eternal is Our Refuge.”

Lord, thank you for Your beauty.  I know I do not understand why things are the way they are…why there are so many hurting and orphaned children here…why there are so many hungry children…I know I will never have the answers to all of my questions.  But the one answer I do have is You.  That You are Faithful.  God I know that You are our refuge, You are our rock.  Please continue to help me see the beauty rising up from these ashes…Help me to continue to love these children and encourage these children and adults.  Help me to show these people, It’s never too late to be loved.  Lord, please show me how to let the beauty rise from these ashes in Haiti.

Written March 23
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