The Family

The Family
Justice, Logan, Jacy Klaire, Joy, Josie Kate, Luke, Megan, Judah, Kerry, Jaxon

Friday, June 25, 2010

Reflections on One Year in Haiti

Today marks one year since we arrived full time on the mission field in Haiti. In many ways I can't believe it has already been a year and in other ways I can't believe it has only been ONE year??!!! We have been so blessed in our first year of full time ministry here. We have been able to see so many things happen that are clearly from the hand of God Himself. We have had many surprises.

I never would have thought we would see an earthquake.
I never thought I would see so many dead people.
I never thought we would leave one mission to start a mission of our own.
I never thought we would be opening an orphanage.
I never thought we would be adopting two Haitian kids into our family.
I never would have thought EVERYTHING would be so frustrating to get done.
I never would have thought we would have visitors from NC, GA, FL, KY, IN, MN, ID, CA, WA, IA, TX, and MO all in six months.
I never would have thought I would need to know abbreviations to so many states!
I never would have thought Judah would go this long without being injured in any major way.
I never would have thought a bus would be our only mode of transportation for this long.
I never would have thought I would have so much trouble getting things through customs.
I never would have thought I would eat spaghetti noodles with ketchup and mayonnaise and like it.
I never would have thought I would eat so much goat.
I never would have thought I would spend 6 weeks sick.
I never would have thought I would miss Bojangles Chicken so much.
I never would have thought Jacy would be so fluent in creole already.
I never would have thought I would be emailing people and asking them to bring me toilet paper when they come to visit.
I never would have thought I would love the people here so much.
I never would have thought ice cream would be such a big treat.
I never would have thought having teams come and stay here would be so difficult and rewarding at the same time.
I never would have thought it would be so long since we saw our older kids.
I never would have thought I would know more about soccer scores than who won the Masters or the NBA
I never would have thought I would learn how to shop for lettuce and good looking potatoes from a women sitting under a mango tree surrounded by baskets and flies.
I never would have thought I would ever have to tell my kids "I promise I will not let the neighbors eat THIS kitten".
I never knew I could learn so much from kids and young people.
I never would have thought I would be so ashamed of how I once lived my life so selfishly and lavishly.
I never would have thought I would still be so ashamed of how selfishly I still live my life.
I never knew I would love fans so much.
I never would have thought I would hide Doritos that someone brought us from my kids so I could eat them later.
I never would have thought Joy could hide chocolate so good that I can NEVER find it!
I never thought we would have so many sick people to deal with everyday.
I never thought I would have to try to convince some of my best friends that the sorcerer is not going to turn into a bat and sneak into my house to cut open Justice's head to steal a part of her brain.
I never would have thought people could be so manipulative and deceitful.
I never knew how many true friends we had back in the U.S.
I never knew that I was neglecting those relationships and friendships.
I never knew that I could cherish them so much.

I could go on forever about the surprises we have seen in this first year. We have learned so much. I actually thought that since I had been here so many times before we moved that I actually knew the culture and what it would be like to live here. I had no idea! It is so much better than I ever would have imagined and so much harder than I ever dreamed. The grace God gives us everyday to handle the things we encounter blows my mind. I had no idea God loved me so much. I had no idea you could sense Him so intimately. I never knew Satan could have such a hold on a people either. God is so good to us. I would not change anything that happened this past year. God has chosen to teach us so much and the biggest thing He has taught us is that we have SO much to learn!

Thank you for believing in us. Thank you for helping us get started. Thank you for being there whenever we need you. A slogan here after the earthquake is "Ansamn nou ap rive' pi lwen". Together we are going farther. That is how I feel about what God is doing in our ministry through all of our partners back home. Tomorrow morning begins year two. I can only imagine what it will hold!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

More Than One Way to Skin a Cat...

Jeanmoi's (Ja' moy) mother and father died and left him to be cared for by a half brother. He had quit going to third grade because he did not have shoes or a backpack or notebooks for class. At 14 failing 3rd grade can be a big deal. We met Jeanmoi through a group of doctors and press personel that were here from Texas. They befriended him and introduced him to us. Joy fell in love with him immediately.

We had him come over to the mission while the group was working one day and had his older half brother come too. After lunch we told him we would like for Jeanmoi to spend the day with us. His response was one of disappointment. He said he was hoping we would just take him because no one else knew what to do with him. Jeanmoi was standing there listening. I could just imagine in my mind what he must have been thinking. The person that is supposed to be raising him is disappointed that a stranger he met an hour earlier was not going to take him. What a tough place to be for a 14 year old. Not suprisingly, Joy was understanding enough creole to know what was going on and pulled me over to the side to briefly explain in clear English that she did not intend for him to just spend the day with us. She felt certain we were supposed to take him in and give him a family again that could love and care for him. I asked the brother if he would be willing to help us get all of the paperwork necessary to take him. He gladly agreed. He left and there stood Jeanmoi with nothing except the clothes he had on. Not a word of English. And surrounded by crazy white people. The perfect recipe for an adventure for all.

Picture with me a 14 year old boy that has never used an indoor toilet or taken a shower that did not include fetching water in a bucket. We had someone want to take us to dinner at the restaurant at the resort here in town the very first night he was with us. It is a buffet and he followed me through the line. It was the first time I had seen American food in quite awhile so I made sure to load up on mashed potatoes and pork tenderloin. Jeanmoi did the same. We sat down and I began to savor the taste of mashed potatoes with real gravy and did not notice the huge smile that had been on Jeanmoi's face since we walked through the door was now gone. He sat there holding his fork with a confused look on his face. When he saw me looking at him he began to apologize and asked if there was any way he could just go get some rice and beans. He returned with the smile bigger than ever and a heaping plate of rice and beans.

He has been with us for about a month now and things are getting into a routine. Jacy Klaire is his interpreter of everything not just English. He asks her everything. He is back in school and we are trying to get him tutored so he can pass 3rd grade. He is teaching us a lot too. For instance tonight I learned the proper way to kill, boil, skin, roast, and eat a cat. We have a cat that is sitting right here beside me. The whole conversation made her a little nervous. We told Jeanmoi how the cat attacked Joy and bit her one day pretty badly...a whole nother story... and his serious protective response was "I'll eat that cat!" According to Jeanmoi, who was surprised I had never eaten cat, it tastes a whole lot like goat.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Meet Wilna

We were doing a clinic at one of our schools in a rural province with a medical team that was here from Atlanta. I preached at the church there on Sunday and invited everyone to a clinic on Tuesday. The medical team saw adults with medical problems while our eye team screened all of the school children for eye problems. A lady came up to Dago and asked if we could see a local girl that was not in the school there but had eye problems.

She sat on the front row waiting to be seen. In her torn clothes with matted hair she sat with her head down staring into the floor. I could see the signs of malnutrition and worm infection from where I sat on the platform seeing the other kids. When I called her to come up she looked at me and I could see a severely scarred left eye and could tell her vision in her right eye was not good either. When she sat down I could tell she was blind in her bad eye and had only peripheral vision in her good eye. In a muffled voice without any eye contact, she told me her name was Wilna.

I told Wilna that I needed to talk to her mother because she needed to be seen in our eye clinic so I could do a more thorough examination. She shyly told me her mother and father were both dead. I asked who she lived with and she was unclear of even what to tell me. I talked to the church member that had brought her and told her I needed to talk to her family member that was responsible so we could set up an exam. Wilna just starred at the floor.

Finally an aunt showed up and said that 10 year old Wilna stays with her since she had no one else to care for her. She has never been to a day of school. I told her of the severity of Wilna's vision loss and asked why she had not received care earlier. A lack of concern was evident. I finally asked if she wanted us to take Wilna to our mission so I could care for her. The aunt laughed as if that was a stupid question. She said it would be a great thing for everyone. I asked if she could go retrieve Wilna's things and ride with us once the clinic was over. She hastily left to get her things together.

She returned with pillow case half full of a few clothes. We all went to the mission. The aunt and her sister stayed a little while and ate and then told me they had to leave. They left without telling Wilna goodbye. Wilna spent her first night at our house with us. Then we were able to get her set up at the mission.

I was able to do a full eye examination on Wilna and determined the cause of her vision loss is most likely due to congenital syphilis. We will be able to confirm that when we get her a full physical exam and blood work. The bad part is that many times those children suffer decreased mental ability and nerve deafness. We will be able to make sure she gets the care she needs now.

So that's the sad part...the happy part is that Wilna is now living at our mission and doing great. Allie from Atlanta really formed a bond with Wilna while she was here and helped with the first few days of transition. We moved Colleen, the mother of Christy and Christa, one of the sets of Joy's twins, into the mission to live so we can continue to help with them and she can help with Wilna. It is working out great. You should see little Wilna helping with the babies. She talks and sings and is eager to learn anything someone will teach her. Jacy Klaire is teaching her the ABC's. We are so happy to be able to invest in her life. She is legally blind and could suffer other complications. But we know God has a great plan for her life and we are grateful to be able to be a part of it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Little Pot Goes a Long Way!

Mirlande, so surprised to learn that we had African American- non Haitian- people in America. She was totally flipped out to meet Dr. Jackie when she visited a couple of weeks ago. It took me forever to convince her that Obama is not a Haitian that went to America.
Mirlande is our precious, God sent, young lady that we are putting through school and employing as Joy's helper with the kids after she gets out of school everyday. She lives here in our house with us. She is a mountain girl that God has a special plan for.
Last night we got home late because we had been working at the mission. I was starting to feel sick again and I told Mirlande how thankful I was for her help. She looked at me and said that she owed me everything. Confused I asked her what she meant. She started the story with do you remember the hurricanes last year?
In 2008 Haiti had the worst hurricane season in their history. Extensive flooding killed many and displaced thousands more. Mirlande's family was not spared. A typical Haitian family has a little house but the kitchen is not inside. They cook with charcoal so they have an outside kitchen under a little hut. The flooding washed away thousands of families' kitchens and all of their pots and pans and cooking supplies. So after the flood I came down with Tracy, and Toby, and Bob and we bought 10,000 pounds of food to distribute and brought with us pots that we had the people of Tri- City Baptist in Conover, NC collect for us. We distributed those things to families in need.
Mirlande said that I had not met her yet but her family lost all their pots. They had no way to cook for weeks because their neighbors did not have pots to borrow either. Then she saw us giving out pots here in Montrouis. She said that I came to her and gave her the best pot in the whole bunch. She left immediately to make the hike back up the mountain to take it to her mom. She said that when her mom saw her coming down the road with the pot on her head she began to scream and praise the Lord. She and all her neighbors used that pot that day for the first hot meal in weeks. Mirlande said her family prayed for us and that God would bless us for our life saving gift...of a little pot!
I hate to admit it but I don't remember the pot. I don't remember giving it to Mirlande. I remember thinking how much trouble it was going to be to transport all of those pots and get them through customs. I remember being frustrated as people pushed and shoved and fought to get the pots as I thought "they just want anything free". But for Mirlande it was a gift directly from her Jesus that she loves so much. It was an answer to her families prayers. I praise God that He does not give up on this old selfish, proud, self centered Georgia hick and chooses to use some of His precious children to teach me to be more like Him. Please Lord, don't give up!