{rice, beans & love}

"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet" – Frederick Buechner

a hard lesson

My middle child, Loveson, stole my heart the minute I met him. Only after a short day of knowing him, I knew there was something special happening between the two of us. Webert and I would later take him in as our own and a peace would settle deep in my soul, as he would begin to call me mama.

We were initially told Loveson had no parents. We were later told he did have parents, but they never visited him in the orphanage where he had lived. And later on, his parents would call social services and tell them they wanted him back.

To say it has been an emotional roller coaster at times would be an understatement. A month ago, we were told to bring him to social services the very next day with the expectations to never see him again. His parents never showed up that next day and it was yet another confirmation of how ridiculous this system is and how much harder I would have to fight to keep Loveson safe.

Two weeks later the same news was given, but this time the parents showed up. I didn’t go to the meeting because people from ViBella were visiting and I had lots of things going on. At one point, they asked if I was worried or needed to call Webert and I responded by saying, “for some reason I am not worried at all, I know that God put Loveson in my life and I am suppose to raise him as my son.”

Maybe that sounds crazy, but like I said before, deep down in my soul I know that’s what I am suppose to be.

Loveson’s mom and dad saw Loveson last month for the first time in four years. They were excited and were able to answer lots of questions we had. We learned Loveson has two older siblings and a younger one. He was put in the orphanage at the age of two because they could not care for him. They never knew how awful the conditions were inside of the orphanage. They are happy to know he is in a safe place now. Their only request is for Loveson to come for a sleepover and to spend time with him.

So, now the question stands, will we let him go for a sleepover?

I’m worried Loveson will get confused, or he will feel he has to choose who to love. I’m worried he won’t know where he belongs. I tried explaining to him how he can love his mom and dad and can go to visit them whenever he would like. I told him he can ask any and all questions he has.

I asked him if he would like to go there and spend the night with them, his answer, “No, because I don’t want you to cry.”

You see, Loveson has the tenderest heart and he is also too smart for his own good. I have tried not to cry in front of him as we have gone through this process, but I clearly didn’t do a good enough job.

I wrestle though this all the other day as I braid bracelets and necklaces for ViBella. My mind races every which way as my hands bead and thread.

I really do want to grant the parents’ wish and let Loveson get to know where he comes from, but I have a hard time knowing this may cause confusion and who knows what other types of emotional trauma. There really is no easy answer.

And the selfish, very ugly side of me just wants to guilt Loveson into staying with me. Tell him how he won’t have a bed, if he goes to be with his family. Tell him he won’t get chocolate candies at night or have any toys. Tell him he won’t be able to go to the beach again or have a television to watch movies on. I could tell him how poor his biological family and its only best if he stays with me. How incredibly awful of me would that be?

And from the tears he has seen me shed, it looks like it has already had this effect on him. Insert big sigh.

And like the undeserving daughter that I am, the Lord whispers these words on my heart:

I love you. I wait for you everyday to acknowledge me, but you get distracted. I, too, am jealous for you like you are for Loveson. I have every reason to guilt you into loving me; think of all the things I have given you. I have given you immeasurably more than you could ever ask for or imagine; yet you forget about me. You go about your days forgetting to acknowledge me. When you are weary, you forget to rely on me. When you are worried, you forget to trust me. I understand how you are feeling, for I feel the same way when you forget about me, my daughter. Trust in me.

Tears are now welling and I realize how the love I have for the Loveson, the urge I have to fight for him and the sacrifices I have made for him are only a fragment of the love, fight and sacrifices God has made for me.

I am reminded how my job is to love Loveson. Of course the situation is hard and complicated, but I don’t need to have all the answers, all God has asked of me is to love this child. How foolish I am to think I can take care of the rest of the details on my own. The details are for Him to deal with.

This has been a hard lesson for me, because my human instincts are to still respond with worry, anger and selfish desires. My instincts are to respond with guilt and hate. But my God works in mysterious ways and He teaches me to love even when it is the enemy, to be content even when the circumstances are hard and to trust even when the answers are so far from being known. He teaches me that all I need to do is turn my face towards is.

From a broken and healing servant,

Love from Haiti.

We have yet to take Loveson for a second visit to his parents, but we plan on doing so soon. In the meantime will you prayer for Loveson, his family and for our family as we walk this journey together.

 

a Saturday night

It’s Saturday night.

I think of my friends back home and how they’re all probably out to eat or to the movies. Maybe they have gotten dressed up and are ready for a night on the town.

And then there’s me. It’s Saturday night and I’m in a little black number from the Kohl’s clearance rack and my hair is twisted up in a clip. My feet are covered in dirt and my nails have needed a pedicure since last month. I catch a reflection of myself in the rearview mirror and I realize I should have put on mascara before I left the house. I am so far from a Saturday night on the town.

But, it’s Saturday night and I find myself on the back of hip old green moped. My arms are wrapped around my husband and we laugh as we cruise down the dirt path leading home.

To one side I look at the mountains, which are covered by clouds and you can see where the rain is falling. And before me the sun seems larger than life and sets on top of the mountainside. And to the other side, the shore of the ocean runs along side me. It’s picture perfect in so many ways and I find a hard time finding the right adjectives to describe the greatness of this scene.

And, all of a sudden I feel so incredibly small.

My worries about my looks and appearances disappear as the clouds roll behind me, the mountains rise beside me and the waves roar before me. All of these grandeur scenes surround me and it is so intimidating. It is as if at any moment it could all engulf me.

I’m so, so small.

The shredded tents come into focus now and poverty storms my broken heart as the clouds press forward. Poverty has a way of engulfing me, too. Not thinking a difference will ever be made has a way of making me feel even smaller.

Yet, in the next moment I feel so incredibly loved.

And it’s strange to jump from one emotion to another, but I’m realizing in this moment that the Creator of heaven and earth, the Creator of mountains, sunsets, and storms is my Creator, too. And, He loves me and I’m so undeserving.

He loves my messy, dusty self and doesn’t care about my chipped toenail polish. I love knowing He sees past my clearance-rack clothes and looks straight at the heart. Because in this moment of feeling small, boring and not-so-pretty, my heart and soul have never felt so alive on the back of this rickety moped.

This is a come-to moment, a moment I feel He made just for me. Not everyone is going to see it, but I do. I see how the storms will always continue to rage on, all around us. When one problem is solved, another storm is developing behind the next mountain. But, my eyes keep focus on the larger than life sun setting before me. No matter how many times I get distracted by the storm, I refocus on the majestic sun before me. It’s calming and peaceful, reassuring me of another day’s worth of grace and love. I seem to forget about the fact that I may get down poured on at any moment.

And in this moment, I just desire more of Jesus. I worship Him for his majesty, creativity, grace and beauty. I ask for forgiveness because I see how the storms of life distract me. They discourage me and, quite frankly, suck the life right out of me sometimes. But, here in this moment, I know how very much alive I am. I’m reminded of how deeply loved I am. I’m reminded how much more alive I feel when I’m focused on my end reward and that’s a beautiful thing.

It’s a Saturday night and I just drove down a dirt path on the back of an old green moped. Life doesn’t get much better.

a modern day Jesus man

This has been a hard week for me. Just lots of stuff going on and seem to be emotionally, physically and spiritually weak. The lessons Jean Louis left me with are what got me through it. 

This past week Thursday we said good-bye to the sweetest man I have ever met. He’s a person who has always caught my attention for the way he radiated joy. He spoke love through his actions and the contentment he always resonated was something I long for. You see, Mr. Jean Louis, was a Christian, but he never once told me about Jesus. We never prayed together or swapped testimonies, but he showed me more Jesus in the way he lived than any other Christian I have ever met.

The pastor shared during the funeral service how Jean Louis was always the first person to put money in the offering pan. The pastor knew he never had much at all, so this always left a big impact on him. Jean Louis was the modern day character from the story in Matthew Luke 21:

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything–all she had to live on.” (verses 41-44)

I couldn’t help but smile as the pastor talked about Jean Louis this way. And, I couldn’t help but feel the Spirit, knowing I had met a modern day Jesus. It left me feeling honored and inspired. 

Jean Louis lived the simplest of simple lives. He never married nor had children. He lived at peace with the people of his community and helped those around him when he could. Besides a small bag of clothes, some pots and pans and a donkey, he left behind nothing else. 

Sometimes I would watch him walk to the big palm tree to tie up his donkey, and think, “what a perfect life this man has.” Just his darn donkey and a relationship with his Savior, realizing that is all you really need. 

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Then there would be times that we would meet along the dirt path. He probably weighed no more than 95 pounds and only 5.5 feet tall. I would embrace him and feel all the bones in his back. He would kiss me on the cheek and ask, “kijan ti bourik ou ye?” how’s your little donkey? We first became friends when I bought my little donkey from him. We danced the night away the night of my wedding, and he would later tell Webert, he had never been to such a party in life. And, I know all the wedding guests noticed his child-like joy.  

On Sunday mornings I would shake his hand and secretly watch him as he worshipped in the back of the hall, with his palms lifted high. I wanted what he had. 

If I could do it over again, I would stay on that dirt path a little longer. I would ask him where his joy came from? How he learned to be content over the years? Where did he find happiness when life had given him nothing more than a mud hut and a donkey? We can probably guess pretty accurately what his answers would be just by the way he lived out his life, but I wish I had sought out more advice from this modern day Jesus man. 

At first I was so sad to say good-bye to this sweet man. I’m just going to miss seeing him in front of his house, waving at me each and every time I pass by. But, I know they had the biggest dance party ever as they welcomed him Home. His aches and pains are no more. Poverty will never strike him again and we celebrate because we know full well he has been given the greatest gift of all. 

He will be the first person I want to visit once I get to those golden gates someday. 

As, we cleaned out his house late one afternoon, I asked if I could have his old, tattered Bible. It now sits on my nightstand as a reminder of who Jean Louis was and all that he taught me. He showed me Jesus like no one ever has and leaves me wanting more. More Jesus. A deeper relationship, something so audacious and authentic, that it too, will leave people wanting more Jesus. People won’t have to ask me where my joy, love and contentment comes from…they will just know! Just how I knew all that about Jean Louis. 

Thank you Mr. Donkey Man for teaching me something so remarkable and for teaching me it all through yours actions and love. How simply humbling and amazing.

 

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Lazarus Fund: an update



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First of all, thank you. Thank you for turning my fears and doubts into a reality and blessing. Thank you for saying, “we believe in you.” Thank you for walking this journey with me.

When I first introduced the Lazarus Fund, I was scared. I have never wrestled with an idea for so long nor doubted the words I typed on the screen. I felt vulnerable, and who likes feeling that way?

I had had the idea of the Lazarus Fund on my heart for about six months before writing about it. Within 48 hours, close to $4,000 was received and all I could think of was God laughing at me, saying, “I told you it would work.”

Thank you for responding to my needs and the needs of the people around me.

The Lazarus Fund was founded in order to help my husband and I give money and help people around us. We have gotten to a point in our lives where we can’t keep giving all that we have, yet we are surrounded by people who need to be given to. The Lazarus Fund is in place so that you can help us help them. Today, I want to tell you all about whom YOU have been helping!

First was Mami. Mami is the sweetest woman you ever will meet. She comes to my house twice a week to help me with laundry, it is how she feeds her family. When she asked if I could help her pay for wood to finish her roof so the rain would stop falling in her house, I had a very hard time saying no. Fifty dollars later, Mami had a new and improved roof and her house now stays dry when it rains.

Next was Masila. Masila wanted to start a small commerce a.k.a. small business selling goods (a very, very common thing in Haiti). I said sure, but I wanted to know all about it before jumping in. Her idea is to make fish and other Haitian food to sell at the beach. On the week-ends the beach can be very busy and she saw a demand for such a thing. So, $150 later, Masila now has a business to call her own.

 

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And then there is Nadeg’s family. He is an experienced sewer and wanted to start a business making school uniforms, pants, etc. for people in the community. We thought it was a great idea, especially since he proposed the entire business plan to us himself. We bought him a sewing machine for $200 and he now proudly sews on his front porch to support his family of seven.

 

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In the midst of all this excitement, we have also helped several people finish school and helped a pregnant mom through a medical emergency. So, the Lazarus Fund has been seeing a lot of excitement!

Last but not least, I used some of the money to buy a bed for my favorite elderly man, Jean Louis a.k.a. Donkey Man. I bought my baby donkey from him so, that’s where the nickname comes from. We were in the process of planning to build him a new table and a staircase to help him climb up his porch, but unfortunately, last week little Donkey Man passed away after having a stroke so we never got around to those things. But, praise Jesus for the Lazarus Fund money and we will now be able to hold a ceremony in honor of him.

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Thank you again for everyone who has donated to this cause and for allowing all these amazing things to happen, I can’t wait to see what else God will do through it and you.

 

To donate to the Lazarus fund, send a check to Touch of Hope at:

205 Old Mill Lane, Rock Rapids, Iowa 51246 *memo note: Lazarus Fund

* Touch of Hope is a recognized 501(3)c non-profit and all donations are tax deductible

what I want: a reflection

One whole year ago. Where did the time go?

A year ago I was newly engaged, 23-years-old and loved where my life was at. I was comfortable and felt right on track. Then you know what happened the very next day? Not even 24 hours after saying “yes” to my fiancé, a little life came into my life and turned it all upside down again.

A lost momma had given up her 11-month-old baby at our orphanage gate and upon meeting this child I knew my life was forever changed. It took a couple of weeks before she became mine, but the journey to make her mine was the biggest leap of faith I had ever made in my life.

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My mind told me so many lies: you can’t do it, she’s a baby, you’re too busy, you’re planning a wedding, and you already have two boys. But, my heart kept crying, “Yes, you can.” So, we did. My crazy fiancé and I took in an 11-month-old, 8 pound, severely malnourished, AIDS positive, tuberculosis fighting baby.

She’s a miracle and she reminds me that miracles are an everyday thing as long as we have our eyes open to them. She’s also hilarious, a little naughty but a literal bundle of joy. She has the biggest smile and a personality that makes you fall in love with her almost immediately.

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It’s been a year.

But, a year before Wishla came into our lives, Loveson made his debut. He also came out of nowhere, but we fell in love with him instantaneously. Also malnourished and weak, and kind of goofy looking, he had the most contagious spirit.

This past Sunday I watched him graduate preschool (preschool graduation is a very big deal in Haiit!) and I have never been so proud. I really think he has taught me more about life than I have taught him, though. I don’t know what he will grow up to be, but I do know that whatever it will be, it’s going to be incredible and he’s going to make the world a better place.

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So, needless to say I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting of the past two years the last couple of days. I’m blown away that God would trust me with the many roles he has given me, but I have to admit there have been more days where I feel totally inadequate and unqualified than I do feel equipped.

I dreamt of having this very simple, missionary life when I moved to Haiti. I would spend my time playing with village kids, holding babies and learning a new language. Somewhere along the way it became so much more than that, though. The lessons I’ve faced have been far from easy. Figuring out how to do things the right way and not ruin lives in the process has been the hardest part. Realizing that lives will always be at play when poverty is the issue is what makes things difficult.

You can’t stop fighting and working when there are lives at play. Even when I find a new job for someone or put another child in school, there are always more waiting. There will always be someone knocking at the gate. The idea of this becomes daunting and exhausting. Some nights my mind just doesn’t know how to shut off because I either haven’t solved the days’ problems or I worry tomorrow’s problems may be just too much.

But, somehow I keep holding on. Sometimes it seems by just a strand, but for what its worth, I like to believe a strand is just enough to get me by. The pressure of poverty and the worries of tomorrow haven’t stopped me from dreaming any bigger.

In the past year, my dreams came true when I said “I do” to the craziest, most loving man I know on a beach at sunset. He’s my rock and my partner in crime when it comes to solving our problems. I followed my dreams when it didn’t make sense to open up a new business and somehow that is working out for me, too! I never dreamed of being a mom, but putting my three munchkins to bed after another day feels a little like a dream come true, too.

But, at the same time all the dreaming can get in the way. Some days my “to-do” list is longer and more of a priority than my “to-love” list. My days seem to run out before me and the simple things like walking through the garden to see my favorite grandma, or going to visit the donkey man, or visiting a mom with her newborn baby, or getting down and dirty to play soccer with the village kids don’t get done. The hard things seem to trample the beautiful things.

Basically, in a nutshell of a reflection, because my mind can’t seem to figure out what it wants to say and my heart has had a rough couple of days….all I really want is more Jesus. I want a love that is simple and pure. I want more love and to be a forever vessel of that love. I want to be broken day after day, to be exhausted at the end of every day and to be reminded again and again what my purpose is. I want to stop being distracted. I want more justice for the hurting, more freedom for the oppressed, more jobs for the unemployed, more hope for the hopeless. I want light to shine in places where it has never shown before.

I know it’s a far stretch from reality, but really, I just want things to be okay in my corner of the world. I want the man who can’t pay rent and is forced to live on the streets with his three kids to find a job so he can provide for his family. I want the mom who keeps showing up at our gate to find a way to feed her six babies. I want the dad who just used all of his savings for his son’s surgery to find a job so he can have a sense of security again. I don’t want us to be rich, have the nicest things or prettiest clothes, I just want it to be okay.

So, I’m going to keep on dreaming (and working as hard as I can) to make a path for a better tomorrow. It doesn’t have to be the best, just for the better, so people can say they’re okay.

And, I don’t think I will be okay until they’re okay.

Until then,

love from Haiti

never a mistake

I don’t think many of us like to admit our mistakes. I know I don’t.
Then again, I don’t know if the story I’m about to tell was a mistake.
It was a lesson, though; I do know that for sure.

Mama Noel has had me heartbroken and shaken since the day I met her.
I won’t forget that day. Ever. I was dripping in sweat, having climbed
up half a mountain to meet some of the sweetest kids. They kind of
piled out of their shack like clowns do in those tiny cars at the
circus. Nine children total, ranging from ages 2 to 21 came out one by
one. They were all accounted for by their at-the-time very pregnant
mama.

Nascha, the youngest, was so sick. She literally had bugs crawling out
of her ears from a severe ear infection. The children showed signs of
malnourishment and spent their nights sleeping on a dirt floor. The
mom showed me how the house of tin was giving way and when it rained
their house became a giant puddle.

I’ve told this story so many times now. After meeting this family and
falling in love with them, I wrote their story right here on this blog
and was able to raise over $9,000 to build them a new house. God was
so faithful to me as I walked beside them and was so faithful to them
as He began providing in miraculous ways.

So, we began building their new home and I walked beside mama as she
neared her due date. Being pregnant with her tenth child and having
had a previous stroke, she was considered to be very high risk.
Towards the end, we ended up admitting the entire family to our rescue
program at Tytoo. They were housed there until their new home was
complete.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go our way when the baby came. Mama Noel
had spent nearly 36 hours in labor, me walking beside her most all of
them. We spent the first night at the hospital, walking back and forth
on the sidewalk outside of the hospital’s front gate.

They don’t have maternal suites here in Haiti, let alone open beds for
women in labor. Literally, this nine month pregnant woman was lying on
a wooden bench as she yelled through her labor pains. As the sun rose
the next morning, the nurses sent us home, saying she wasn’t ready
yet. We were back at the hospital around 6 p.m. that day and baby was
born around 9 p.m.

I have to admit, I was kind of excited to see a baby be born. I had
played out the scene so many times: I would hold hands with mom as the
baby came, there would be a high-pitched cry as this new life came
into our lives. We’d wrap him or her in a blanket and I would carry
him home as mom rested in the back seat. It would be just like the
movies.

But, this baby didn’t come out crying. I held my breath, waiting for
him to let out his first breath. But, he never cried. The two nurses
kept saying, “li pa bon, li pa bon” it’s not good, it’s not good. I
remember watching them pick his little wrinkled legs up and dropping
them with there being no sign of a reflex. I remember just bawling at
this point in the story, and my friend Frank giving me the biggest
bear hug of my life.

We ended up taking an ambulance to Port-au-Prince and the baby was
announced dead up arrival. Mom was then admitted to a different
hospital for hemorrhaging and bleeding. A couple days later, she came
home and we grieved together. It was then that I decided I would try
my hardest to make the future for this family different.

We ended up spending $8,000 on their new home. It was furnished with
new bunk beds, a kitchen table and painted bright purple. All the kids
were enrolled into school and with $1,000 left over we decided to use
$200 so mama could start selling fish at the market again and the
remaining $800 would be given over the course of the next 8 months for
food. We had many talks about the plan for the future: it would be
different! She promised me no more babies.

I loved seeing her girls playing up on the school’s playground instead
of spending their afternoons hauling water like they had to before. I
loved seeing them be full of energy, because hunger didn’t loom on
them anymore. I loved seeing mama’s excitement after a day spent at
market. She was getting a second chance and it was a beautiful thing.

After eight months, when the money was finished, I decided to
“release” them on their own. I had helped them through their
emergencies and built them a new home. I felt mom was finally at the
point where she could stand on her own two feet. So, last September I
stopped visiting them, with all the confidence in the world they would
be okay.

This is where I wish the story ended. Tune the happily ever after.
Close the book. At that time I thought I had done it all right, but
would later realize that maybe I had gotten it all wrong.

By late October, I had received news that Mama Noel was pregnant
again. Yes, pregnant. With her eleventh child! After losing her last
one, nearly dying herself and after working so hard to get back on her
feet, she was back in the same situation.

I became so angry at first. Frustrated, disappointed and let down.
Then I just became so incredibly sad. Back to angry, on a roller
coaster of emotion. I knew I couldn’t help her again, not to the
extent I had before. I just couldn’t. But, then guilt settled into the
cracks of my healing heart and I couldn’t figure out what was the
right thing to do anymore.

I had several nightmares of her bleeding, the baby dying and her
children showing up at my gate as orphans. I haven’t really told
anyone about these, but you can’t not experience something like I had,
having watched her last baby be born stillborn, and act like this next
pregnancy was okay.

This was her fault, not mine. I realize this argument, but her life
was in danger and I knew I would forever carry guilt if something
happened. But, I knew I just couldn’t help again. The cycle would just
repeat itself and not only were my resources burnt out, but I kinda
was too. (insert a lot of motivation for the Lazarus Fund)

So, for the past 8 months I have been praying for the health of both
mom and babe. Not many days went by that I didn’t think about this,
but I had to trust both my God and my instincts on this situation.

Yesterday morning, Monday, was off to another busy start. Many people
are suffering from a fever with symptoms of severe body aches,
headaches and rashes right now in Haiti, coming from mosquitoes. As I
drove to Tytoo Gardens, I found one of my ViBella employees on a
motorcycle. She could barely walk because she was in so much pain.
After settling her in a bed near a fan, I made my way to the office.
As I began responding to e-mails that I had been avoiding since
Friday, Taunya (a full-time North American staff member) came rushing
in saying, “Mama Noel’s newborn baby is here.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I was totally caught off guard
and immediately worried, but I found myself coming upon a healthy, 8.8
pound newborn baby girl. Tears welled in my eyes as I took her in my
arms. I seriously couldn’t believe how big she was. We made our way to
the clinic and learned that three hours previous, Mama Noel and her
sister had been rushing to a doctor on a tap-tap (public
transportation) and she gave birth right then and there. Yes, her 11th
child was born in a moving vehicle! They were bringing the baby to the
clinic to be seen and two hours later we transported mom to a hospital
to make sure she wasn’t losing too much blood.

After many months of worrying and having nightmares, a happily ever
after made a way in the midst of pretty ugly story. As I cleaned the
baby and dressed her, it felt like a piece to a happily ever after
story. A story I feared the ending of for the past few months. I felt
so relieved, joyful even.

I’ve learned that God doesn’t make mistakes. We, humans, do all the
time, though. Maybe I helped them too much at first, maybe not enough.
Should I have done more? Will there ever be an answer to these
difficult situations? Will I ever stop seeing moms with too many
babies and babies with not enough food in their bellies?

But, God doesn’t make mistakes. We do.

Should Mama Noel have gotten pregnant for an eleventh time? Probably
not. But, God wouldn’t have brought this beautiful healthy baby into
the world by mistake. Should I have kept visiting in September? Would
she have gotten pregnant had I kept visiting? At what point does it
stop being my responsibility to help?

It hurts to carry these questions some days. On those days the world
just seems heavy and it’s a little harder to breathe. But, God doesn’t
make mistakes. He didn’t make a mistake as He led me up a mountain to
their shack that very first day, nor did He make a mistake by
providing the funds to get them a new home with beds.

I think the mistakes lie in our irresponsibility when handling God’s
blessings. Mama Noel had been blessed with all the tools to see a
better day, but somehow ended up jobless and pregnant, repeating a
vicious cycle. I’d been given all the tools to help her, and somewhere
along the way made a mistake by allowing the vicious cycle to be
repeated. I know it’s her fault that she ended up pregnant, but maybe
I should have kept holding her accountable.

I guess I just don’t know. There are just sometimes too many rights
and too many wrongs. It’s hard making decisions when lives are at
play.

But, now there is a new life to account for. A beautiful baby girl.
And even though I don’t know what her future looks like, I know she’s
not here by mistake.

Would you please keep this baby girl and her mom in your prayers?
Along with the many other moms who are struggling to keep their babies
alive and well? Please pray also for the people of Haiti to be healed
of the fever epidemic that is in full force right now.

Poverty is such an ugly, messy thing. I’m sure many more mistakes are
to come as I look for ways out of it, but I put my trust in a God who
doesn’t make mistakes.

rewarded faith

This past week was a blessed one. We had a team of ten guys from Iowa visiting with a goal to pave the very steep and rocky road that leads up to our school. The road was in such terrible shape; vehicles could barely make it up, let alone motorcycles (motorcycles being the most used mode of transportation in Haiti)

Day one consisted of the team digging trenches and carving out the path they would pave. Days two and three consisted of buckets full of gravel, sand and water being passed through our “assembly line” of workers. I, of course, had to get in on the action. I have never had so much fun working so hard. We yelled and joked as we passed the buckets down the hillside to the cement mixers. Bucket by bucket we got closer and closer to a finished paved road.

And by day five, we had a finished road. Students, teachers, parents and many more will now have a safe place to walk and vehicles and motorcycles will be able to pass with much less trouble.

As we stood on our finished masterpiece this morning, allowing the guys to take some final photos, I couldn’t help but remember the very first time I ventured up that hillside.

Webert had brought me there to show me where he thought the school should be built…at that time we had money to build a single building and the original place only had room for just that. A family member began giving problems, wanting money, once she had heard a school building was going to be built. So, in an effort to avoid drama and being ripped off, we searched for other options and were led to the mountaintop.

Within two weeks, we were sitting in the mayor’s office being handed the deed to our land. Miracles happened there! Land deeds like this can take years to get in Haiti. Two months later we started building our first school building, which held 172 students that year (2011-2012).

Looking back, I now recognize all these pivotal moments of simple faith. At the time it may have seen like the right thing to do, but had we not taken the steps and relied on the faith we had, I don’t think we would see The Lord working in all the amazing ways He has.

If we had just stuck with the plan to build the original building down in Simonette, we would have never have had room to educate the 900 students that we do today. God showed us a way to the mountaintop, worked miracles for us to have it and now has given us room to grow in all the ways He leads.

This is just one example, but I reflect on so many more moments of just down right faith leading me on this incredible journey. The moments have been far from heroic, not movie worthy nor award winning. They didn’t require beauty, fortune or fame. They were ordinary to most, but to Jesus, these acts meant the most.

I believe the moment we say “yes” to His will, He begins moving mountains. When we fall before Him and say “we are all in,” He takes our lives and turns them into something more beautiful than we ever imagined. We were made to take leaps of faith and live dangerously for him and when He sees those leaps of a faith in action, His rewards are much more greater. When we choose to lay down our lives and pick up the cross, who knows where He may lead you.

Another thing I love about taking leaps of faith and watching where God takes me is that being all He requires of me. He doesn’t ask us to be perfect, extraordinary or successful – in fact, I think He likes it when we are a little crazy and flawed!

The Bible is plump full of stories of people who were so very ordinary in their days, but their leaps of faith were what made them known.  They leaps of faith are what have made them legends and we are still learning from them today! I like Moses, he was brave enough to lead his people out slavery to a land of freedom. Best thing about the story: he didn’t really know where he was going, just day after day was following God. And for Moses, when the pressure was on and the army was closing in on him, all he had to do was stick a rod in the ground and before him an entire sea split, leading his people to safety.

Just an ordinary guy with a stick letting God lead the way. Uhh, I need to find a stick like that! But seriously, I find that to be the most incredible thing about God: just using fools like me, people who are brave enough to say “yes” and then using us to move mountains and do His Kingdom work! He could use the rich and famous, the kings, queens, presidents, movie stars and geniuses, but he chooses us!

I also think I love it so much because it allows me to still make mistakes, have a dirty house and be myself without having to feel not good enough, unqualified and unloved.

His words say, “I work for the good of those who love me,” and this verse came to me this week as a group of Iowans and Haitians worked together to pave a road. It was hard, hot and exhausting but I have never felt more rewarded to be a part of something. I love Kingdom work.

“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:28

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