When You Know You Are Home

SONY DSC

The girls with freshly painted fingernails

The enemy knows right where to hit us when we’re down. When I get really busy sometimes I am not good at putting on
my armor to deflect him. I have been back in Haiti now for one month.
Though it feels amazing to be here and is definitely home for me…it has been a tough month. We have some incredible teams coming and one that just left this week and I am already getting hit with the spiritual warfare from what God is going to do here.

The day before I left the states to head back to Haiti my vertigo returned, with a vengeance. I know most of you have never had vertigo, or driven in Haiti, much less driven in Haiti with vertigo. Well, imagine your worst nightmare and there it is. I have also had insane migraines along with ulcer type pains. I have had three Haitian friends of mine within one week’s time tell me that I have gotten a lot fatter since the last time they saw me, or that I need to “put the fork down”…to quote verbatim. Though I have gained weight this past couple months from the cocktail of meds that I have been on through this medical journey, there is no reason for comments like that. I understand the cultural differences between the US and Haiti, but hurtful words are hurtful words. I am not obese, not by any stretch of the imagination, but when weight gain is a result of a spiritual physical attack, it is a rough reality. Especially when he combines it with whispers in your ear….or out loud.

In a year that I have chosen “Worthy” as my word for the year to focus on and accept, those words hit me where it hurts. I am challenging myself to accept the self-worth that God has created in me, and believe that I am worth loving…something that has been very hard for me to believe in the past. I am a child of God and I am His “Beloved” and nothing can take that away from me.

Ysalene….
in my sunglasses chillin’ on her new porch

I have grown to love and be part of a family here in Haiti called the Alphonse family. If you have followed me on here or Facebook, you are familiar with them. Calypso, Yberman, and Ysalene are the three children in that family that I spend a lot of time with. Their Mother is a lovely woman that doesn’t have the means to take care of them and, in my opinion, doesn’t know how. Though she has given birth to 10 kids total, it doesn’t seem that she knows what these kids need. I go up to their house and love on these kids at least once a week because they are severely neglected. Because of their social awkwardness it has taken them a long time to warm up to me. One day a few months ago, I asked Ysalene what my name is (since she is quiet I wanted to know if she remembered it). Her response with a big smile was, “Manman” (which means Momma). Calypso laughed and repeated..”Manman Cynthia!!” I didn’t know how to respond at first. It put a huge smile on my face, and yet it made me wonder what their real Mom would think of that.

SONY DSC

Ysalene’s photo she gave me

When I first landed back in Haiti after spending the Holidays at home in California, all I wanted to do was go see my kids at the school, especially the Alphonse kids. I spent a few hours up at their house because their Mom was gone at the market and they were all alone, and then I walked back to the school. A few of us were there talking when I see Madam Alphonse come up to us and started speaking in Creole. She told us that she has something for me and to wait while she ran home and came back. When she returned she had a small, wallet size photo of Ysalene. They had recently gotten pictures taken for an event and had prints given to them. Madam explained to us that when they received the prints, Ysalene told her to put this one aside in a safe place for “Manman Cynthia” when she gets back from the US. She handed me the cutest picture I have ever seen. Though she is not smiling (which is standard in Haitian photos), it is perfect. I couldn’t believe that she was so sweet and gracious to give this photo to a random white woman that her daughter calls “Momma”.  I was beyond thrilled and blessed.

SONY DSC

Their newly being built home

This week we had the privilege of starting to build a new home for this family. Madam Alphonse is not a friendly, smily woman though I know she is happy that we are doing this for her and her children. While the team built the home alongside of our Haitian construction crew, I took it upon myself to keep the kids busy and away from the chaos. As you can imagine, a lot of neighborhood kids gathered there each day to play with the “Blan” (white folk).

Madam Alphonse and Calypso

Madam Alphonse and Calypso

About the 3rd day of being out there this week Madam was cooking food for the crew. I was sitting near her with a few of the kids. A new kid had showed up that day and was a typical “too cool for school” teenager and was showing off his English to me. He asked me question after question in English and I answered him in Creole and we were getting to know each other. He asked if I had any kids and I said no. Just then, I hear Madam Alphonse speak up and say in Creole, “Yes she does!! She has Ysalene!!” She had a smile on her face. I had no words but definitely a few tears welling up in my eyes. Ysalene gave me a big squeeze and smiled while looking up at me.

SONY DSC

Me and Ysalene

Am I making a difference here in Haiti? What is my exact purpose? What can I look at and say that I accomplished? What about my to-do list that keeps growing and growing and never seems to get complete? What about the tough days that no one on our staff is willing when I need them to help me with something? The harsh words of discouragement…both in whispers in my ear for the enemy as well as out loud from others?

In that moment….all questions and concerns were answered.  I shared some very special moments that day while Madam took a pile of pictures out of her humble house and sat next to me. She showed me pictures of all of her kids and we spoke in Creole, without a translator and bonded.  I was able to tell her how beautiful of a family she has and see the smile on her face. These relationships and my witness to her are all that really matter.

I am home.

Here is a video I made with a few of my pictures and video clips from this week:

The Journey of Silence

image(18)

Reuniting with friends and family

As I set my feet on American ground 3 weeks ago I had no idea what to expect. I knew that I would be experiencing many reverse culture shock moments, many tears of joy while reuniting with friends and family, and as many long conversations and hugs and kisses that I could possibly squeeze into 2 months of being home.

The culture shock happened in the Miami airport just moments after landing. As I walked through the brand new customs area, there is a huge sign that says “Welcome to The United States of America” and I’m pretty sure everyone around me thought I was psychotic with how big of a smile was on my face.  As I walked to get my baggage and go to my next flight I stopped at the corner newsstand store to get a fresh bottle of water. I walked in and immediately walked out as my heart started racing. My eyes and brain literally were unable to focus on everything in this tiny little store.  Sensory overload doesn’t begin to explain what I experienced. The following first few days were just like that; grocery stores, driving for the first time, hearing my first commercial for some ridiculously expensive product, it was all so overwhelming.

The one type of culture shock that I wasn’t anticipating as much was the spiritual one.  I have spent the last 7 months living in a dark country. A place where God is moving so powerfully in the lives of the people, but Haiti is still engrossed in spiritual darkness. I don’t specifically talk about this aspect of my life in Haiti very often but it is there. There is a huge voodoo presence there and we see the bondage and results of it almost every day that we are out in the field. I dealt with my fair share of spiritual warfare while being there on my own. Though I know it comes with the territory when you are living out your days in a dark place that God is using you so much for His glory, you never know how the enemy will choose to attack. My personal weakness is anxiety and that’s what he chose to attack me with while I was in Haiti. It has been a life-long struggle for me, but when you’re in a foreign country alone without your support system of family, therapists or doctors, it is hard to gain control on your own. That’s where the 100% dependence on God comes in. I was there with no outside resource to help me manage my stress and anxiety, except being comforted solely by my heavenly Father. It’s such a hard place to be sometimes, but it’s such an incredible place to be also. He always shows up.

Fun trip to Iowa last week

Fun trip to Iowa last week

I have come back to the states for just under two months for the holidays and thought that this was my retrieve from the spiritual warfare. This was to be my time for physical, emotional, and spiritual rest to rejuvenate me as I return for the next year in Haiti and whatever comes my way.

One week to the day from returning to California I woke up with no hearing in my left ear and extreme vertigo. It was the day before Thanksgiving and my Dad took me to Urgent Care and they ended up sending me immediately to the hospital for further tests. After ten plus hours in the ER and finally seeing Dr. Aaron, the ENT (ear, nose, and throat) Specialist, she diagnosed me with Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss. The vertigo was caused by the inflammation of the nerve in my ear that was damaged in some way causing the sudden deafness.  Dr. Aaron gave me medication for the vertigo so that I could walk and function and steroids to take for two weeks for the hearing loss. She told me right then that I have a 30% of getting my hearing totally back, 30% chance that it would improve some, and a 30% chance that it would stay deaf. The other 10% is that there could be a growth or tumor that is pressing on the nerve in my ear, but that usually causes a slowly progressing deafness as it grows, so it was unlikely the case for me. I was scheduled to come back for a full audiogram test after the Thanksgiving weekend to decide just how profound the hearing loss was and then it would be repeated after the full two weeks on the steroids. The first audio gram showed complete hearing loss in my left ear and all normal ranges for my right.

The following two weeks were a serious spiritual battle for me. The first week, I was still almost completely debilitated with my vertigo so I couldn’t do much at all and I needed a lot of assistance. I wasn’t sleeping because I kept testing my ears, plugging one and then the other to see if I thought it was improving at all.  I kept thinking, if this is the worst thing physically that ever happens to me, I am so blessed. I had peace amid my fear, but still really struggled with the difficulties of not being able to hear when people spoke to me.  And my brain was doing weird things to overcompensate with the other ear.  I kept hope in the promises of my Savior and his healing power and purpose in my life.

Two days ago I took my second audio gram after finishing the hard core regimen of medication and there was no improvement.  Dr. Aaron came in after my test and told me that my job now is to take good care of my right ear because it’s all I will have for the rest of my life. She said that since I don’t have ANY hearing in my left ear I am not a candidate for a hearing aid at all. We will still do an MRI to just double check that there is no growth before I head back to Haiti and that’s all.

I live in Haiti and see things every single day that are so much worse than losing your hearing in one ear. This is not something that will prevent me from doing the work God has called me to do. It could have been a leg, an eye, a serious illness or so many things that would have stopped me from being able to get on a plane back to Haiti in January.  But, why? Aren’t I supposed to be in Sanctuary right now in the states? Isn’t this supposed to be where the spiritual warfare just chills out so that I can spend time with my family and preparing my heart and body for the long months ahead in Haiti?

Iowa Snow!!

Iowa Snow!!

If you ever want to know that you are being used by God, wake up one day with complete hearing loss in one ear. I have and will probably always struggle with grasping whether or not God is able to use my broken and sinful self, but He apparently thinks I can handle a lot and He likes to test me on it.  This situation has proven to me even more that I am right where God wants me. The enemy followed me all the way home to the States to try to crush my spirit and to stop me from going back to Haiti. Can you imagine what God has in store for me this next year in Haiti?!! I won’t pretend for one minute that I have a clue what He is going to do, but I am pumped and I will be there to allow Him to use me for that purpose.  It will be harder for me without hearing in one ear, but nowhere near impossible. I will do what I need to do to not let it get in the way and try to keep myself spiritually on track so that I don’t let it discourage me.

My God is Faithful. My flight is booked back to Haiti on January 15, 2014 and God has already provided $6,000 of my personal support for next year. I still have $9,000 to raise before I go back and I am trusting Him fully to provide that as well. I am so grateful for all of the prayers and financial support that all of you have given to me and especially for believing in what we are doing in Haiti.

If you would like to help with my financial support and you would like a tax-deductable receipt you can simply send a check to:

Christian Life Church
ATTN: Cynthia-Haiti
P.O. Box 8527
La Crescenta, Ca 91224

If you don’t need the tax deductible receipt you could also visit:
www.gofundme.com/send-cynthia-to-Haiti
and donate there as well.

The Journey Home

Me2!EThis last six and half months have been filled with so many emotions. I have experienced a joy in knowing that I am right where God wants me to be, finally. There has been moments of loneliness being so far away from my friends and family and not having a spouse or partner to share this with. I have met some amazing people that have inspired me and fed my soul. I spent the summer with three of the most amazing 20 yr olds as my interns and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for their lives. Teams have come and gone and I have had the opportunity to meet people from places that I have never been that I truly believe will be long-term friends. I have discovered things about myself that I never knew I was capable of. Things like living without hot water, air conditioning or the guarantee of electricity. Like getting used to driving up and down dirt roads filled with pot-holes and people walking all around you with no shoes. Getting used to the fact that every moment I am at home I have to have a fan blowing directly onma and the boysE me, no matter what I’m doing, which includes me finding anything that I can use as a paperweight to hold down my paperwork. Like throwing out the window any germaphobic tendencies I may have to embrace and give kisses to a child that I am desperately in love with that probably hasn’t bathed in days. To feeling a feeling so deep in my soul that I can’t even breathe of the Love that God has for us, for all of us.

God has not only used my experiences of Haiti and the Haitian people but Americans that are here temporarily to speak into my life so profoundly. I have made friendships and connections to some amazing Godly people that I pray I will be able to keep in touch with and that can continue to speak into my life. I have shared the hurtful stories of my past and have been blessed by others words of encouragement and assurance. God has allowed me to be me and use just that. He doesn’t have to turn me into the woman that I think I have to be before he can use me. He has used me just as I am, broken and redeemed.  It has been amazing and freeing to be in a place that I can just be vulnerable to whatever He has in store and sit back and watch Him orchestrate the things that He can use for His glory.

me and aliEI came to Haiti with little expectations, as I have said. Coming from a Retail Management background where every interview I have been in I have been asked where I see myself in 2 yrs, 5 yrs, 10 yrs, and I better have goals and plans to aspire too. I have felt like somewhat of a failure for a long time for not knowing what my future holds. For not having a huge dramatic goal to work towards. Ever since my divorce about 7 years ago, I have been in survival mode and that’s about it. God has revealed to me that sometimes survival mode is a good place to be. That’s the place that you desperately need Him to show up and provide. To prove Himself to you.  To allow Him to create the plan and you won’t get in the way of it. I love this place. I love Him being in control and though I’m sad that it has taken me so many years to get here, I’m grateful I am now.

God has shown me that He is not finished with me here in Haiti yet. Though next Wednesday I Me and twinsEwill be on American soil for the first time since the first of May, I don’t find that to be my home for now. Haiti is my home. It is where my heart and His heart in me reside so therefore I must as well. It is hard for me to think about and plan to raise the $15,000 in support I need to have in order to come back here, but I believe that it is God’s plan which means that He is in control. It is such a blessing to have a position in which I feel fulfilled and I can be a blessing to others. God has placed me with an incredible organization and Directors that I believe in and who believe in me.

This is going to be my life’s verse for this next step as I live to serve Him and His people in Haiti.

MeE“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from the darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendoSONY DSCr” (Isaiah 61:1-3).

If you would like to pray for me or donate financially towards my next year of serving here, please visit my GoFundMe page
@http://www.gofundme.com/Send-Cynthia-to-Haiti or

Send a check to:  Christian Life Church
ATTN: Cynthia-Haiti
P.O. Box 8527
La Crescenta, Ca 91224

Expectations of the Journey

“I could just sit and wait for all Your goodness, Hope to feel Your presence. I could just stay right where I am and hope to feel You.  And I could hold on to who I am and never let You change me from the inside. And I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home, never let these walls down.

But You have called me higher You have called me deeper,  And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord.” -All Sons & DaughtersSONY DSC

I had an interesting conversation with someone the other day about missionaries.  It was something that I knew and have felt but never had heard spoken out loud.  We feel like we are called to go and work in a foreign land and be the hands and feet of Jesus. We know the Word and the message that God wants to bring to these people. We know the healing that God has for them and we will go and bring it to them. What I think we don’t realize or can so easily forget, is the message and the healing that God has these people bring to US.  Just like these song lyrics say, I will go where you lead me Lord, knowing what that means: that if I go you will change ME from the inside and break these walls down.  This is not always a graceful thing to realize or accept.  When you are in a different country trying to minister to others, God uses those people and experiences to expose deep rooted pain and internal issues that you might not have known you have.  Now here you are, alone in this country, with just you and God dealing with this amazing mess of healing.

When you start a new job, you have expectations.  Expectations of how fulfilling it will be, how good you will be at it, what you will contribute to it, what you will get out of it,  what relationships you will make along the way and what you will learn from it.  When you move to a new city you have expectations. Expectations of the new friendships you will develop, of the new amazing church you will find, of the fun places there will be for you to visit, of that favorite restaurant you will discover and love.  But, I never really thought about my expectations of the mission field.  I just knew that God sent me here and I had to go believing that He will work out the rest.image(3)

When I moved back to Los Angeles about a year ago, I knew what I needed to be successful in my journey. I needed community. I found it immediately with awesome new people at Basileia, my church in Hollywood, thanks to my brother and his friends. When I left this Spring for Haiti, I felt confident and blessed by the community of friends and family back home who were partnering with me and praying for me which I knew would be the only way I could be affective here.  I knew that when I got off of the plane, God would be here to embrace me and guide me since he sent me here in the first place. I assumed that is all I would need. The thing I wasn’t expecting is to still need community.  Although my support from back home is so huge and it encourages me daily, I’ve come to realize that it’s not enough.  It might sound silly, but I didn’t realize that everywhere I go, the person that God created me to be doesn’t change.  I think I just sub-consciously thought that God would transition those feelings and needs into something totally different in Haiti.  The things that He created me to crave and long for are still there. He definitely fills in those gaps and adjusts to my surroundings somewhat, but the core need doesn’t change. It might look different, but it is the same. I need like-minded people around me that are going through similar day to day activities and struggles. People that I can relate to and can encourage and lift me up. I desire to have a partner to share my calling to this country and to walk this journey with me.  I need to feel like my gifts and talents contribute to my success here and my experiences can make a difference in other people’s lives.

SONY DSCFortunately, I feel I have found most of those things since I have been here. I know I long for more and that will never change but I am so blessed with what I have. I have a position (although everyday looks completely different than the one before) I believe I am really contributing to and believe I am needed here for. I am privileged to work for an organization and people that appreciate me and what I have to offer in service to others.  People who have been around for a long time and have lived and learned things I need to know. I believe that we can continue to learn and grow together.

image(2)

Some of my crazy/amazing support back home

That said, I am still looking for the right community The Lord has for me. I had the amazing blessing of my parents coming to visit for an entire week a little bit ago and we had a blast. I will be honest and say that some definite loneliness has set in since they left though because I have really realized what it would be like to have a better support system here. Not just on the phone or online, but present right here. As I am sitting in my room feeling alone and sorry for myself the other day and wondering why God would send me here to be all alone, I had a very humbling moment. I realized that I haven’t even talked to him about my feelings and what I sense I need. I haven’t even asked him to open up the right doors for the community that I need here, believing that he wants that for me also.  My prayers are often about other things and other people and I struggle to be honest with myself about what I think God can do for me.

I have met people since I’ve been here that are pro’s at this whole Missionary thing. I’ve also met a lot of people that are still figuring it all out.  I am definitely still figuring it out, but I’m a newbie.  I know that God has a community for me here and I will pray that I will find it.  Or maybe God is saying that it is my responsibility to create it! To find the other Cynthia Foster’s, other newbie missionaries who need each other and help create a community for us here.  Either way, I am going to talk to God and be honest with Him about my needs and wants. It seems so simple…”Tomorrow’s Freedom is Today’s Surrender!” :-)

DSC08317E2

“Tomorrow’s Freedom is
Today’s Surrender”
My new tattoo written in Creole
Thanks to Ayiti Ink!

 

Glorious Ruins

I have been thinking a lot about ruins lately.  On the new Hillsong Live CD, the title track is called “Glorious Ruins”  and it reminds me so much of where I am right now, both geographically and in my heart.

“When the mountains fallSONY DSC
And the tempest roars You are with me
When creation folds
Still my soul will soar on Your Mercy

I’ll walk through the fire
With my head lifted high
And my spirit revived in Your story
And I’ll look to the cross
As my failure is lost
In the light of Your glorious grace

SONY DSCLet the ruins come to life
In the beauty of Your Name
Rising up from the ashes
God forever You reign”

While I am living in Haiti, I am surrounded by ruins.

As I drive around Haiti in any direction I see buildings destroyed by the earthquake. I see half fallen down businesses and empty lots with few bricks left where a home used to be with a family living inside. It’s so hard not to wonder as you drive by, were they inside when it fell? If not, where are they living now?  Will they ever be able to afford to rebuild?

All over Haiti you also see buildings that have
walls that are being built up. SONY DSCThey have begun the process of rebuilding and it might take them years before it will be complete. Sometimes it’s hard to see the difference between the ones that are half standing from the destruction or half standing from construction.  The process looks the same during many stages.SONY DSCIt makes me wonder how often we look at people in the place that they are. We look at an unfinished structure and don’t see very far past the damage.  Past the destruction and don’t even realize or recognize the amazing rebuilding that is happening.

God has such a powerful way of being able to pick up
those blocks, add a little new cement and build it back up.SONY DSC

SONY DSC

After the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, they went around and spray painted in 3 different colors on the outside gate of the homes and businesses. Green was to say that the building hasn’t had too much damage and you can enter. Yellow meant that it was damaged but able to be repaired, and Red meant that it was gone or hopeless and too damaged to repair.

Dear Jesus, thank you for not labeling me hopeless or too damaged to repair. I have been through a lot in my short 32 years of being alive.  I have been destroyed and ruined by the actions of people that were close to me and some that were not. I have been abandoned and abused and left only to lean on my Savior to repair the damage. It left me jaded and broken trying everyday to hide the look of despair and hopelessness in my appearance, sometimes damaging myself further in the process. Longing for someone to see me for more than the broken bricks and unstable foundation. For someone to look past the destruction and see the potential for a newer stronger structure to be built.

I recently finished reading “Undaunted” by Christine Caine and she explains living a life undaunted by the things that have happened to you or that you have done. About living a life free from those burdens and allowing God to completely rebuild you and make you new again. She says, “Jesus loves us and chooses us and makes us whole, not only for his pleasure but so that we SONY DSCmight join him in reaching a world otherwise lost.”  He alone has the power and just as I drive around Haiti and see new buildings that have gone up and look beautiful, we can be transformed into a new building, a new life with hope and promises and new memories to be made there.  And we won’t be rebuilt into a unstable, unreliable building. We will be rebuilt into a stronger, earthquake-proof structure with a stable foundation that we can add onto and feel comfort in.

Thank you Jesus for rebuilding me into a vessel that can help others. May I never take that for granted or misuse this new structure that you have made me into and may I use the rest of my life to use it for your glory.

 

 

clc-logo2

This post is dedicated to my parents, Randy and Charlotte Foster, who not only have been the leading hands that God has used during my personal rebuilding process, but are in a literal rebuilding process themselves.  They took over a church almost 3 years ago that had burnt down in 2006 and have been on the brave journey of rebuilding. The people in this church have been so faithful to trust God with the provisions on this building and to bring the lost and searching. They are a great testimony of how we need to believe God and His word while giving him control and He will rise us up out of the Ashes and rebuild.  CLC-LC-perspective-NW-from-corner-150x150

A Journey with Purpose

Yesterday was a rough day.  I know that this journey has a purpose. I know that I am here for a reason and I am blessed beyond belief that God chose be to me here today.

I am supervising three amazing young ladies that are interning with us for two months. It has been a joy and privilege to be able to lead them and I pray that this is a growing period for them and that God reveals great things to them as He has to me during my time here.

SONY DSCWe had the opportunity to walk around a community called Williamson yesterday where one of our schools are and talk to some families.  We had a chance to talk with people and hear about their lives and how God might use World Wide Village to educate and develop this area long-term.  SONY DSCThe girls and I were able to pray with them and encourage them and just be a friendly face to see and hold. Last week when we were hanging with the kids in our school one of our interns, Acassi, made a sweet connection with a little 3 year old named Calypso.  As we walked around the neighborhood yesterday she asked our tour guide, our Pastor of Williamson’s 11 yr old daughter, if she knew where Calypso lived so we could get a chance to say hi to him.  We were actually really close to his house so we went there.

As I walk around I realize…my eyes and my heart are used to seeing poverty.  Though I have only been here just under 2 months, there is no escaping it. It is everywhere you go in Haiti and I wouldn’t say I am numb to it at all, but I find myself seeing these places and people through the heart of God and love them so much that I don’t see only the negative anymore. I look for opportunities to minister and help and pay close attention to needs that I see throughout each day.

SONY DSC

Sister (I would guess 5, but when we asked her she didn’t know how old she is), Calypso (3), and baby brother (1)

The sight we saw when we got to Calypso’s house has been replaying like a video on the screen in my head ever since.  Sitting on a cement block on the side of their tiny house all huddled up together were these three kids crying their eyes out.  The situation we found out shortly after we arrived is that their Mother goes to town and walks the streets to sell Popsicle type things to make money. Each day she leaves early in the morning and comes back after it is dark, the daughter told us. Since their are no real neighbors nearby they have zero supervision, food or water during the day or a chance to bathe.  It was the worst thing I have ever seen in my life. They seemed almost sedated by neglect and exhausted from sitting in the heat and crying for hours.

SONY DSC

Our Operations Manager, Peter, that was out there with us yesterday was as distraught as we were and we immediately switched from tears to action. We asked the little girl a few questions and she was able to grab a couple of items of clothing and we took them with us.  Watching this probably 5 yr old girl have to be in charge of her two brothers and was so sad herself was just horrifying.  After walking to a neighbor and letting them know what we were doing, we took them in our arms and carried them with us to our school where Pastor Joussaint and his wife were.  We were able to bathe them, change them into clean clothes and feed them a snack. I literally gave them all of the Haitian money I had on me so that we could get some food to cook for them for the rest of the day as well as the next.

While his wife prepared a meal for them, Pastor Joussaint explained to us what he knew about this family.

SONY DSCThey do not have a present Father at all.  There is an older brother, around 13yrs old, that isn’t around much.  They had given him things to go sell to help out but he would usually spend the money before he even got back to his family and would go missing for days.  Pastor told us that about 2 years ago, the mother was gone all day selling things and came home to her 5 yr old child dead.SONY DSC

SONY DSC

The inside of their “house”

I can’t imagine what these kids have seen and had to experience.  I can’t imagine being left alone in what I couldn’t even possibly call a home, without something to eat or drink all day in the squelching heat.  I can’t imagine wondering if or when my Mom would come home and having to comfort my younger siblings as a 5 yr old. A beautiful 5 yr old that should be playing and laughing.  A little baby that should be learning how to walk and talk from his Mother. A sweet 3 yr old that is almost dead socially from the lack of attention and affection.

SONY DSC

Chanaelle, Chachi, and Acassi with 3 of the cleanest, cutest kids ever

We were able to leave them with food in their bellies, clean clothes on their freshly washed bodies (even though all we had was a dress for the baby boy:-/), and a hint of  a smile.

SONY DSCWe knew that Pastor and his wife were going to care for them last night and today and we need to come up with a more permanent solution so that this doesn’t continue.

The struggles the day brought me were many but each one very real. I struggled to maintain my composure as a leader in front of my 20 yr old interns. I struggled to act strong and in control, risking them thinking I am heartless, so that I can make good decisions and a plan of action. I struggled as they asked me to bring the kids home to the guesthouse with us when I knew I had to say no, but all my heart wanted to do was take these kids away with me.  As we drove the hour an half home after this exhausting day, I cried. My mind couldn’t let go and stop spinning with the images I had seen and the pain that I experienced for these kids.  As the interns slept in the backseat of the car, I attempted to process my thoughts and began writing things that came to my mind.

I came home to a guest house with no Spouse/Partner to digest this day with.  No one to hug me and tell me it is going to be OK and we will figure something out.  I know that God uses these times to fill that void and be there for me, and He did that last night.  Some days are just tougher than others to be here on my own and handle some of these things but I am still grateful for every minute. I am still grateful for every tear I shed in pain for these people because I know God brought me here with a purpose.

My Devotion today said this, “Stay calmly conscious of Me today, no matter what. Remember that I go before you as well as with you into the day. Nothing takes Me by surprise. I will not allow circumstances to overwhelm you, so long as you look to Me. I will help you cope with whatever the moment presents. Collaborating with Me brings blessings that far outweigh all of your troubles. Awareness of my presence contains Joy that can endure all eventualities.” (Psalm23:1-4; 2 Corinthians 4:16-17)

Praise the Lord.

This Journey of Faith

Have you ever prayed for patience? Well, good luck with that.

photo(7)

Pictures of and from our Guesthouse
where I live

I currently live in a 3rd World country.  If I am going to move to Haiti, I know how to do it right.  I live in a beautiful home and though we don’t have hot water or Air Conditioning, we have running water, filtered drinking water, electricity, internet, and a whole lot of fans, all in a safe gated community in the capitol city of Port au Prince.  I’m set up for success by an organization that has been here for over ten years and has it down. I am finishing my fourth week here already.

I thought this transition would be fairly simple and in some ways, I am surprised at how easy it has been for me. I mean, I just needed to adjust to the 95 degree weather alongside the 86% Humidity and I’d be fine! I have most of the luxuries that I am used to beyond that and I can focus on my work here and what I am setting out to do.

By week two, this transition I was in started to take interesting turns.  This organization that I am blessed to be a part of has some great things in their future and is going to make a huge difference for the people of Haiti.  I believe God is going to use me is some small part of that process and I can’t wait to watch it all come to fruition. When God has big plans, Satan fights back.  Slowly but surely I have been part of that fight in the last three weeks.  From the electricity being little-to-none most days, to our back-up generators failing in huge unmanageable ways, to our vehicles basically falling apart.  It has been a test.  I have showered with only drops of water to showering in the dark completely. I have gone days with only a couple of hours of electricity which means no fans or escape from the heat and mosquitos, no refrigerator to keep my food cold and safe to eat, while my pantry food is attacked by the ants coming in to escape the rain outside. Somehow, and it can only be God, I have been able to be content and keep my cool.  None of these things are typical for our place and is purely attack after attack.

The morning I woke up to my food destroyed by ants on top of all of the other situations, was the first time I had a small break down. I had maintained my smile and really truly hadn’t been too frustrated at that point. The staff we have here is so amazing and I never wanted to make them feel bad, so I am very careful of my words and actions in response to these issues.  I finally came upstairs frustrated by the ants preventing me from having my morning coffee and oatmeal, and I broke down. It all kind of caught up to me and I was tired of it.  As tears strolled down my face, I opened up my email to my daily devotion in my inbox. It was, of course, titled “Your Faith is Being Tested.” God cracks me up. Seriously, I laugh out loud at least once a week at Him and His tactics. As I read the devotion, lead by the verse “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold.” (1 Peter 1:7a NLT) I couldn’t help but smile and begin to feel better.

My family was updated in a long detailed venting email and they all responded lovingly as always.  My Dad responded with awesome words out of a book that he is reading and it is so great for what I needed to hear that day.

Psalm 121:1-8, “I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from the mountains?  No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep. Not on your life! Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep.  God’s your Guardian right at your side to protect you-Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moonstroke. God guards you from every evil, he guards your life. He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always.” (The Message)

About this Psalm Eugene Peterson says, “At no time is there the faintest suggestion that the life of faith exempts us from difficulties. What it promises is preservation from all the evil in them. On every page of the Bible there is recognition that faith encounters troubles. The sixth petition in the Lord’s Prayer is “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The prayer is answered every day, sometimes many times a day, in the lives of those who walk in the way of faith. (see also 1 Corinthians 10:13) The way to describe the Christian journey is to name and describe God who preserves, accompanies and rules us.”

Peterson goes on to say, “All the water in all the oceans cannot sink a ship unless it gets inside. Nor can all the trouble in the world harm us unless it gets within us. That is the promise of the Psalm…None of the things that happen to you, none of the troubles you encounter, have any power to get between you and God, dilute His grace in you, divert His will from you.”(see Romans 8:28, 31-32).

There was a lot more to be said in that email and from the scriptures detailed in that book and it was such a comfort to me.

God is faithful. During the testing process, during the refining process, with electricity and without. He is faithful.

A few pics from my first couple days here

A few pics from my first couple days here

I am at home in Haiti. Even with the attacks from Satan and the tough days, I feel 100% at home here and have no desire to be anywhere else. That is God and I couldn’t be happier to be the one he is using during these tests.  And I will prove to keep my Faith through them. The water is not getting in this boat!