Haiti

A Shift in Perspective

I woke up this morning in my warm house.
I was wrapped in three nice, fluffy blankets.
When I got out of bed, I slipped my feet into shoes specifically made for walking around the house.
I sleepily walked to the kitchen where I pulled down a three pound canister of Folgers coffee and put on a pot to brew.
Then, I went into the bathroom, ignoring the baskets of creams and beauty products that remain unused, and turned on the shower.
While I waited for the water to get warm, I went to the clothes dryer to fetch a clean towel.
I proceeded to enjoy an extra long, hot shower, with water so clean you don’t have to worry about keeping your mouth closed in fear of parasites.
When my shower is over, I find myself silently complaining that it will be cold when I pull back the curtain.
And it is, so I quickly dress and head back to the kitchen for a cup of that precious, steaming hot coffee I love so much.
I add a packet of stevia (the “safe” sweetener these days) and a generous pouring of creamer before grabbing a muffin and popping it in the microwave.
I head to the couch, turn on my flat screen tv, and open up the Netflix app to enjoy an episode of Grey’s Anatomy that I’ve probably seen 3 or 4 times before.

Within an hour of waking up, I’ve encountered more things to be thankful for than I have fingers on my hands.

You see, I pray on the way to work every morning.  If I am completely honest with you, it is nothing eloquent.  It’s not filled with big churchy words and I usually lose my focus at least once.  (Cue awkward apology to our Heavenly Father for squirreling during a prayer.) And it’s usually pretty similar to the prayer from the morning before.

I always try to pray in thanksgiving for the many blessings I have received, but let’s face it.  We are a nation of abundant blessings and little thanksgiving.  We live day to day taking everything for granted but to an extent, everything has just always “been there” without us having to put forth any effort to achieve it.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t know what it’s like to go hungry, or not to have shoes on my feet, or a bed to sleep in.  I don’t know true need.

Even as someone who’s visited a third world country and seen the devastation, the hurt, the poverty, and the need… I still come home and fall right back into the same ole habits.

A Haitian woman preparing a meal.

I’ll never forget my first trip to Haiti.  I remember being hyper-aware of the huts and tents the people called home.  Electricity is only for the “wealthy” and even then, it comes in spurts.  They wear tattered, second hand clothing and  worn out shoes, or in a lot of cases, no shoes at all… The soles of their feet are tougher than leather from walking barefoot. Their tummies swelling from malnutrition.  They’re heading to the river or, if they’re extra lucky, the ocean to bathe.

One day, we went walking through the community to do some outreach.  We handed out simple items like underwear and socks, candy and small toys.  There is a method to this kind of outreach.  You must be careful to keep your donations hidden from sight until you hand them out; you must pull things out one at a time.  Because when need runs this deep, when people are desperate, their eagerness will resemble an angry mob.

After handing out our items, we encountered a woman selling “dirt cookies.”  No, you didn’t read that wrong.  And yes, they’re exactly what you think they are.

Dirt, flour, water.

Offering little nutrition to those who eat them, parents often feed them to their kids just to fill their bellies.  But, with that quietening of their growling stomachs comes the risk of parasites from the dirt.

My sponsor son, sweet Billie! The picture on the right in from my first trip in 2014, the one of the left is from this past summer – June 2017.

Even my own sweet Billie was living in a mango tree eating whatever he could find.

Can you imagine?

Can you put yourself in the shoes of those parents?  Or those kids?

Today, on this day of thanksgiving.
When we’re taking showers with clean water.
When we stress about what we’re going to wear.
When we gather and eat until we are miserable.
When we fuss because the kids will only eat mac-n-cheese and rolls.
When we can’t agree on which football game to watch.

Can you put yourself in their shoes?

We are a nation of excess.  We are wasteful.  We are, in today’s lingo, extra. 

Most of us take everything for granted.

We are people who look at a full cabinet of food and just “can’t find anything to eat.”

This is what the Haitians call a “souffle.” It’s where their meal is laid out on a banana leaf. It’s considered a special occasion.

We look into our overflowing closets and just “can’t find anything to wear.”
Our perfectly good cars, phones, etc. need to be traded in for the newest version.

I know I am guilty of all of these things.

This holiday season, I want to challenge myself and all of my readers to give thanks for the things we forget to be thankful for.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.  1 Chronicles 16:34

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

If you want to know more about our mission work, visit our website!

It’s a love Haiti relationship

I often tell people I found Jesus in the eyes of a little Haitian boy.

Don’t get me wrong, I grew up believing in God and attending church.  I’ve always referred to myself as a Christian, but I think we all have that defining moment in our faith.  That moment that opens your eyes and breaks your heart.

My first trip to Haiti was planned on a whim.  It was a Sunday morning, I was sitting at home, talking to Bethany -my best friend of 20 years.  And as quickly as two text messages, two leaps of faith, and four terrified parents later… We were going to Haiti and we had less than a month to prepare!  We still joke that it was our quarter life crises, but if I’m honest it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

10436689_10202958438134425_4299727723540653362_nGod showed out as the next three weeks flew by in a whirlwind of donations, prayers, immunizations, and finding the perfect bug spray… And before I knew it, we were packing the car at 12AM… Heading to my first plane ride… To a third world country.

*Now is probably a good time to mention that we didn’t just throw a dart at the map and choose Haiti.  Lori, one of my dearest friends, was my teaching mentor at the time.  She and her husband Pierre started Give Us Hope Mission a few years prior and I had been listening to amazing Haitian stories for months.*

Billie showed up at the mission house within the first few days of our trip.  We knew little12033024_10206458034542148_3590228339571532994_n about him, but it wasn’t long before his little laugh had us all melted into puddles.  We began questioning him and we found out he was homeless and had been sleeping in mango trees.  Sometimes, he would stay at his cousins’ house.

I remember feeling like someone punched me in the gut.  The rug had been pulled out from under my feet.  That little boy was living in a mango tree.  If that doesn’t humble you, nothing will.

10291344_10204224011092958_5957122633305862043_nWe spent the rest of the trip inseparable.  Billie loved peanut butter, he could barely swim, he prayed with his hands over his eyes, he had one set of clothes, he was fascinated with our phones – especially the music app (I don’t think I will ever listen to I Will Follow again without hearing him sing it), and he was there when we got baptized…  We spoke different languages, but we learned to communicate the most important things – swim, peanut butter, hungry, hello, yes/no, and the sweet silence that often defined this new found friendship.

I could write for days about my experiences in Haiti and the love I have for the people there.  But it’s getting late, so I will fast forward to the latest on sweet Billie. Through sponsorship and prayers from people we know and people we may never meet, I’m happy to report that Billie has started school and he now lives with his dad.

If you had told me two years ago that I would now be planning my third trip to Haiti to see my sponsor son, I would have laughed in your face.  It’s funny how life takes the most unexpected, yet joyful turns!

Jesus’ last words tell us to go and make disciples of all nations.  If missions or even sponsoring a child has been weighing on your heart, take the leap.  It will change your life.

For more information on how to donating, sponsoring a Haitian child, mission trips to Haiti, or the work that our mission is doing, visit http://www.giveushopemission.org/ or contact me – I will be happy to talk you through it!

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40

Blessings to you!