Thursday, August 4, 2011

What I've Learned in Haiti, Part 2

  • In America, we don't need God until we feel like He is all we have left.
  • In Haiti, we need God in every moment.
  • That Satan is hard at work to stop Kingdom work.
  • That all the planning and researching we did in preparation to build a house in Haiti was not enough.
  • It is virtually impossible to build a house in Haiti if you are an American.
  • Everything cost at least 4x more here.
  • That after  8 months of struggling to build, we are still have only about 1/3 of the way in.
  • That the money that should have lasted our entire 2 years here is gone.
  • That it is very difficult to fund raise away from home.
  • That we are going to have to move home in order to raise the support we need to finish building the house that we believe God wants us to leave to GVCM for future missionary families.
  • That it is very difficult to leave these people who have become our family.
  • That it is heart wrenching to leave Jeff & Lovelie.

So basically, after much prayer and wise counsel we have made the tough decision to move back to Texas and begin trying to raise more money. Which I personally hate to do, but it seems to be necessary as self supported missionaries.  I must humble myself and pray against my sinful pride.  Our move back to Texas has nothing to do with our comfort or discomfort. It is simply incredibly expensive to do anything as an American here.  We ask for your prayers as we make another huge change for family and prayers for our girls, who we hate to leave.  One bit of good news is that our attorney has said that our adoptions could be finalized as soon as October!  Praise God!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Good Stuff

We have had some fabulous folks here the last week or so. It is always exciting to watch God bring specific people here for a specific purpose.  I proudly say that a group from our home church pulled off another teaching conference that was priceless to the Haitian teachers who attended.  We have some very intelligent teachers here in Haiti that teach in our 35 schools around the country, but I am always amazed at the lack of information they have been able to use.  They themselves are learning some basic information that they will go back and share with their students.

This was the second annual teaching conference and I pray there are many more to come.

Stuffing backpacks with school supplies to give to the teachers

Teachers checking out the schedule and the classes offered.

Art teaching water purification and conservation

Petra teaching health



The Haitian teachers and the TBC team

Mike Young from Kids Around the World came to teach God's Word through felt boards to the Haitian Teacher. They got to keep the felt board presentations to take back to their churches.

Mike also brought a team to install the playground from Kids Around the World.  Three, eleven year old girls from Oklahoma raised the money to buy and get the playground to the kiddos at the orphanage.

Dedicating the playground

The kids love it!!

That's probably over the weight limit!!

Tyson Ray and our kids in front of the new school building.  Tyson was instrumental in getting the funds to begin the school.  

God is Allowing great things to happen here! Praise Him!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Getting Vertical

I haven't blogged in a while mainly because I struggle with just how honest to be when I write.  If you know me, I am usually brutally honest, so I don't want this blog to show how utterly dark I am inside.  I feel if I write, it should be uplifting and tied up at the end with a pretty bow.  However, several close friends have asked me to express just how I feel.  Here goes....

I do not know for sure if I am cut out for this. I am a spoiled American.  I wondered if this was a mistake, the worst mistake of our lives.  It is a very burning pain to KNOW that God called you somewhere, but go to bed every night wondering what the heck I'm doing here and what have I done to my kids?  We are square pegs in a round, or better yet, obtuse country.  Nothing here is easy, nothing here makes sense to our American minds.   I want to apologize for being American, but I can't.  That's where God created me and in my finite mind I never imaged how other parts of the world lived.  But here I am, in a country just a 2 hour flight from "the American dream".

We flew home recently to take break from Haiti and try to rejuvenate.  We went to Family Camp with our church, the trip was great and we got to see lots of people we missed, but the underlying feeling for me was dread. Dread of having to return to that 10x10 room we are now calling home.  I prayed ( a lot) that God would replace that dread with joy.  I anger myself for dreading the return. I despise myself for being pitiful.  I resolve to "gut it out", then immediately resent the thought of having to do so.  "You called us here God, make it joyful!"  I selfishly pray that our adoptions will be approved and we can come home with the girls.  Everything works against us here.  Even the elements.  The only thing I look forwarded to on returning is seeing Adele.  She is joyful in this dark and evil country.  But I tell myself  how repulsive I am for even feeling this way.  I think of the woman just twenty feet from me on the other side of the campus wall, who's life does not even begin to compare to mine.  She is joyful in her dirt hut while sit in my room feeling sorry for myself.  This room is luxurious compared to hers.  I am selfish and black inside for even comparing her life to mine.  We have never ventured to say that we are in any way noble for giving up our lives and our "stuff" at home to serve in Haiti, and I cringe when people compliment and praise us for it.   I take no pride in it. Isn't is the very least we can do to answer and be obedient when God says to "do this"?   "Do this!" without expecting anything in return.  "Do this!" even if you never see the results of your labor here on earth.  That's certainly how we started out, but we are human (poor excuse) and I begin to look around me and dread sets in.

Satan certainly did all he could to keep us from getting back here.  With none of us looking to getting on that flight, the ticket agent informs us that he will not give us our boarding passes unless we purchase return tickets to the US.  What? We have made two one-way trips to Haiti in the past without return tickets.  This guy is a jerk and insists that customs in Haiti will demand to see a return ticket. Obviously, he has never been in the PAP airport because customs is much more concerned about what we bring in the country and NOT whether or not we will ever leave the country.  We tell him that in we are working to get our residence in Haiti and that we have 6 months to do so.  He doesn't care and bottom line is, we buy $1200 worth of tickets to return on a random date just so we can get on board a flight we are all dreading.

One of my prayers since we have been here is for us to not get cynical and bitter. It would be easy to do. I especially pray this for Michael who has more of a daily interaction with the Haitian people and therefore more chances to be disappointed.  Building a house in Haiti has proven to be virtually impossible.  ("God, you built an entire wall around a city in three days!! Surely You could surprise us with a completed home when we return")  We spent the last few days before returning home working diligently to put the walls up on our house and wanting to feel accomplishment before we left.  Michael, Elijah and I surprisingly got quite a bit done, only to receive news at home later that our braces and supports had been stolen and the strong winds had blown the walls over.  The question lingers, "Why are we trying to help these people when they just want to steal from us?"  Then the flip side (or what I call the Holy Spirit) says, "My people do this to Me me everyday and still I love and bless them."   Another score for the Holy Spirit who seems to be putting me in my place a lot lately.  Like it or not, He's right.

The flight back to Haiti is uneventful and quiet, but our first disappointment greets us at the airport.  We had asked that no one drive our truck while we are gone, but it is obvious that request was ignored.  There is damage to front of the truck and it has obviously been wrecked.  This is the very reason we wanted it to stay parked. Not to be selfish with what God has given us, but to be prudent with it.  Again I am reminded that the truck is not mine, it's God's, He provided it.  And once again I am disappointed in my response not just my verbal response but in my thoughts.  (Score 2 HS!)

We are all edgy and tired and dread the settling in back at the room.  Not only do we deal with our own dread, but the boys clearly let us know that they dread it too.  And that, for me, is the most heartbreaking because I want to protect their hearts and minds.  Almost all of my thoughts are negative and immediately trumped by the Holy Spirit with the word "touche".  Someday maybe I'll get it, but until then, I am like Paul, I have to die DAILY to myself and wonder why I constantly need reminding????!!!

We are greeted at the orphanage to 80 sweet faces who are glad to see us. However, I am anxious to see what rodents or bugs have subleased our living quarters while we were gone.  We discover that some small rodent has defecated in the "kitchen", and again the Holy Spirit says, "that's all you are leaving behind for Me as well, Renea..... defecation."  So a pungent smell leads us to discover that "of course" the power has been off while we were gone and the little we left in the fridge and freezer have begun to stink.  No power, no water.   Michael apparently knows that this has sent me over the edge because he cleans all of it up for me.  I am thankful for an attentive and God fearing husband.  One thing we have been able to share with each other is our complete dependence on God, and the fact that we fail Him often.  We have very little "family time" here, even though we live in such close quarters, but I would say that we are closer than we have ever been.  Feeling each others pain and compassion.

A side note on how the electric company works here.  The orphanage is one of the few customers in town that actually pays it's bills, but the reward for doing so is the demand for more and more money and the threat of turning off the power.  Makes complete sense right?  But the backward thinking is that we have money so why not milk the organization for more?  This is typical of how Haiti "works".  I know I sounds cynical in that thought but I prefer to call my cynical side "realistic".   I DO love the people of Haiti, but this is realistically an evil and corrupt place to be.

Michael is doing an excellent job of leading us, not because he does everything right, but because he does want to seek God in everything he does.  I am blessed to have a spiritual leader in him and so are my boys.  We are often overwhelmed with this place and our lack of ability to change it, but this morning Michael reminded us that we are not here to "fix" Haiti  and that our job is just to trust God to use us. A very wise fella back home (Scott Marsh) counseled us in saying that we cannot and will not find Joy by looking around us.  We must get Joy from getting vertical with God.  The illustration  was that we could drive circles around the gas pump all day, but until we stop and "fill up" we are useless, just spinning our wheels.  So that's what we are trying to do.  Get filled back up.  This morning our devotion time was especially needed and we are trusting in it.

Psalms 91 (from The Message, not my first choice of translations, but put it very clearly today!)
              You who sit down in the High God's presence,
                     spend the night in Shaddai's shadow,
                Say this: "God, you are my refuge.
                     I trust in You and I am safe!"
               That's right He rescues you from hidden traps,
                     shields you from daily hazards.
               His huge outstretched arms protect you-
                     under them you are safe;
                     His arms fend off all harm.
               Fear nothing-not wild wolves in the night,
                     not flying arrows in the day,
              Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
                     not disaster that erupts at high noon.
              Even though others succumb all around you,
                     drop like flies right and left,
                     no harm will even graze you.
              You'll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
                     watch the wicked turn into corpses.
              Yes, because God's your refuge,
                     the High God your very own home.
              Evil cannot get close to you,
                     harm cannot get through the door.
             He ordered His angels
                      to guard you wherever you  go (whoo-hoo!!)
             If you stumble, they will catch you;
                     their job is to keep you from falling
             You'll walk unharmed through lions and snakes,
                    and kick young lions and serpents from the path.

             "If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God,
                    "I'll get you out of any trouble (whoo-hoo!!)
             I'll give you the best of care
            Call me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times;
                    I'll rescue you and throw you a party. (whoo-hoo!!)*
             I'll give you a long life,
                   give you a long drink of salvation!"

*Caps and whoo- hoo's inserted by me (obviously)

So there it is, "know and trust Me!"  "fill up at the gas station!!" ( I'm not too keen on the "long life" thing though God, I'd prefer to be physically in your presence.)

That's where we are, trying to just be obedient. Trusting and knowing. What better place to be than in our Creator's arms?  Does it really matter where we are physically if that's where we are spiritually??  That's what we are praying for, to be filled up so that we have something to give in His Name.  I feel sure, I know, that I will screw this up and need to be reminded again tomorrow or in a couple of hours, but that is why we should cherish God's Word.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Death and New Life


Someone very precious to our church here at GVCM went to be with the Lord this week.  They are grieving here for the loss of a 16 year old boy who died suddenly from Hepatitis.  Had he been treated sooner or had better health care this boy may not have died, but we rejoice in knowing that he is with Jesus and suffers no more from the afflictions of this country and our earthly vessels.  

One thing Michael and learned from this was that grief is the same in every culture. Painful.  Even though we are surrounded by children who are orphaned, there are many other families close to us here who truly love their children and provide for them however they can.  

New Life

Something so cool happened here this week. Through Starkey Hearing Foundation and World Wide Village we got to see all of our deaf children hear for the first time in their lives.  It was so humbling to watch and I am so thankful to have gotten to be a part of it.  Seeing their faces light up is something I will never forget.  

Here they are waiting their turn to be fitted.

Dianna, who has no ear canals was even able to be fitted with an external headband that enables her to hear.  We are hoping that our older children will be able to learn to speak as well, but they say that the younger children usually do better picking up speech.

Bill Rancik from Season 1 of The Apprentice was there to fit our kids with hearing aids. Of course they had no idea who he was!

Pastor Yves, Bill Rancik and Roventzley.
All of our deaf children became deaf from having a very high fever as a baby. Something that is so preventable with the right resources.

Jeffly is hearing and feeling his own voice.

Emma being fitted by the founder of Starkey

Yoline, New Life

We also celebrated our May Birthday's.  This is David.  We actually have no idea when his birthday is or even how old he is but we celebrated him anyway.  He was so overjoyed by the celebration, and we guess this may have been his first and only birthday party.

Hot Dogs and Soda

Rudjerry celebrated his 9th Birthday

Marie-Dieunel's life was also celebrated, we don't know her exact birthday either.

Happy Birthday to Baboo too!!

Lots of cake

Remember Mia?

Beautiful Shelby and Mia

This is Mia's Mother. We were also able to fit her with hearing aids.  As a result she has decided to give it another go at mothering baby Mia.  Mia and her mother went back to their hometown.  We will miss her, but if momma can care for her, then that is where she should be.  Please pray for Mia and her mother as they begin their new life.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Last Week Or So....

This is Michael spraying concrete on the panel wall. The wall surrounds the campus and is about a quarter mile in length.  That's a lot of concrete to spray.

This is the set up they have to keep the sprayer going continually.  Usually Haitians do this by hand, but we are trying to be more efficient with our time and resources.

We also finally have the gate installed so the campus and the children can be secure.

Michael and the boys started planting our mango, avacado, lemon and grapefruit trees. They only got three planted before the shovel broke.

We met the Smithson's in the airport on a trip over here once and learned that their church in Arkansas has committed to feeding 117 children at a "make-shift" orphanage in Leogane.  They are hoping to buy land and build a new orphanage to serve these children.  They have taken on a huge task, but nothing is impossible with God.  They came to visit us at All God's Children to research the best ways of going about the whole process.  Please pray for the Smithson's, their church family, the missionary family that is planning to move here and especially for the children at Leogane.

Here they are picking Yves brain for the best way to go about starting an orphanage in Haiti.

We have also had a very special group of people here who came back to visit after being here just about a month ago.  They blessed the nannies with jewelry, new clothes and pedicures.  

A much deserved treat for some very hard working women.

A group was sent from World Wide Village to fit all of our deaf children with hearing aids.

We will be taking the deaf kids to PAP on Wednesday to get the hearing aids.

It will be so awesome to see if the kids can hear after being deaf most of their lives!  

A mold was taken of each child's inner ear.

Amanta, this chick is going to be able to hear next Wednesday, I just know it!!!

Praise God in advance for this miracle!!!

My favorite thing to do is give stuff away, especially when people really need it.

We are handing out Toms shoes to these kiddos.

Elijah and his Haitian buddies helped hand out shoes.

This baby boy most likely has worms that are making his tummy so big.

When you buy Toms they really do give a pair away to a child in need.

Lovin' their new shoes.

We are always looking for something fun for the kids to do around here, Michael thought of this one.

Our own slip and slide!

And last but not least, the big news is, we got another baby on Mother's Day.  This is Mia and she has been badly neglected.  Her mother is deaf and unable to care for her here.  She came to us last night and has a bad burn on her leg.  I'll post more pictures when she is feeling better.  Our little room is getting more and more crowded, but we are sure God is using us to help change the lives of these babies.