{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

come broken

A complete stranger messaged me the other day asking me about Haiti. She’s preparing to move here and she wants to know what it’s like. If I have any advice.

I’ll be honest I didn’t respond. I was being a big negative Nancy the day I received the message and there wasn’t much positivity I could send her way.

Another young man is graduating from college in May and he is considering moving here to work with Tytoo.He would be perfect for the opening we have at the orphanage plus could be a great help with Rosie’s and Salsa Sisters. He’s energetic, organized and positive – all the things I seem to lack on a daily basis. And I want to scream, “yes! please come!” but I know what Haiti can do to a soul and a part of me wants to protect him and push him away.

One of my closest friends left Haiti back in February because it was “time”. Haiti had been so hard to her and she just needed out. I was thankful the Lord opened doors for her go, but I miss her. I hate seeing the pain she has to bear by the stuff she experienced in Haiti.

Other friends are fighting for justice and change to happen in their ministries. But the ministries aren’t willing to change, so my friends’ voices are being quieted. Orphanages continue to open all over the countryside and just last week a woman held her little boy in the air, begging, “pran li, pran li.” Take him. Take him.

Every Wednesday I meet with an incredible group of women and we find ourselves going on and on about how much Haiti sucks, we have now set boundaries to not get stuck on Haiti and her suckiness.

To the stranger who asked me about Haiti and the hundreds of other visitors who come through Rosie’s asking me if I like living here…I don’t. Who really would? Who actually chooses third-world-living when you could have North America?

You move here and you’re advised to bring all the right things: bug spray, peanut butter and beef jerky. Bring all the good snacks. Bring sun screen. Bring oreos. Bring a mosquito net. Get your vaccinations. Bring more snacks. Make sure you have enough water and enough snacks. Always have snacks.

But you’ll get here and you’ll have gone without warnings of the physical exhaustion from the heat, the emotional exhaustion from all the need and the spiritual exhaustion because there’s no outlets to be filled. You’ll get here and you’ll learn (more than likely) what it’s like to be a minority for the first time in your life. You’ll come and you’ll realize any plans you had made, everything you thought you knew and anything you had dreamed up was, in fact, all wrong. You’ll be proven wrong time and time again. You’ll have to start over one hundred times before you get to take one step forward. You’ll be sued by people you intended to help. You’ll be lied to by people you go out on a limb for. You’ll be stolen from. You’ll be manipulated. And you’ll never get a good price…for anything!

You’ll want a day off and you’ll realize you’re never actually off. Ever.

You’ll drive to the city for a girls’ day out and there’ll still be people begging on the side of the street. You’ll always be on guard for people grabbing stuff out of the back of your vehicle or for the threat of violent demonstrations. You’ll decide to go on a walk to relieve some stress, but you’ll be harrassed by motorcycle drivers as they fly by and some may even accuse you of stealing children because you walk with your three adopted kids. You’ll decide to hide at home for a day, but there’ll still be knocks on the gate.

You’ll host visitors and some will come “knowing everything” and they’ll leave you even more exhausted. Some will come and it’s as if you were just a check on their bucket list. You’ll let them into your entire life and ministry, but never hear from them again once they board the plane back home. There’ll be some that come, though, and they’ll meet you right in your mess. They’ll go home and fundraise for you and encourage you and they’ll fight for you (hold those ones close and never let them go!)

But then, you’ll want to travel back to your hometown in North America for a break, but people there will be full of questions. They’ll want to hear all about Haiti and all about your work and they’ll fill your schedule right up and those ideas of sleeping in and binge watching Netflix quickly disappear. You’ll realize, even there, the place where you once belonged…you no longer do. You’re officially an outsider and no one really gets your third-world-livin’.

I write this because, yes, some days I just feel like a big black cloud going through the motions. I get stuck in slumps and heavy feelings of anxiety settle deep. Some days I want to scream “I’M DONE” and fill a 50-pound suitcase, while flipping the peace sign, saying see-ya lata, Ayiti.

But, I write because I need this place to be filled with honesty. I need you all to know it’s not easy. I need us to learn and to recognize that a life of serving and obeying the call to lay it all down and carry that heavy, wooden cross is not something to be taken lightly. I need to remember, in every breath, that life is made for giving.

This week in bible study we read the words of Ann Voskamp from the Broken Way and she poses the question, “How will you spend the rest of your days?”

Live every day like you’re terminal, because you are.

Live like your soul is eternal, because it is.

And while these days seem long and hard, they’re worthy days. They’re slow kingdom coming days. I sow and sow and sow and slowly I reap. Most days go without reward, but slowly I know those rewards will be received. I know the small seeds we plant today will be reaped in full…some day…

Haiti, she’s never easy. Third world countries are third world countries for a reason: they’re pretty awful places…full of corruption, oppression and poverty, full-blown poverty.

But, I let Ann’s questions sink deep because I don’t want Haiti to be my excuse. I don’t want my rants and complaints of Haiti to fill this space. I want this life – the only one I get –  to be hard because Jesus’s calling is hard. Jesus’s whole mission was spent serving and loving and giving. Jesus’s last moments were the farthest thing from beautiful, comfortable, American dream-worthy.

I want to be spent…empty and broken…for the sake of Jesus. Whether that’s in Haiti or not, I wanna be broken for the sake of the cross. Because, at the end of the day, that’s what we sign up for, right? When we proclaim, “we’re all in, we believe in you Jesus”…we’re signing up to die to self. Every day. Over and over again.


We found a second piece of land for Rosie’s expansion project. It’s cheaper than the first piece. It is larger. It is closer to a community that has a lot more power than the community I’m currently in. It will be quieter and more than likely safer. It should feel right. Everything about it should.

But, it doesn’t.

The devil sits on my shoulder and whispers, “if you do this…this means forever.”

If you truly commit to this vision that will mean many more third-world-livin’ days. This, my little friend, is crazy. You cannot do this. You should not do this. You shall not do this – it almost becomes a command as I let him sit there, nestled on my shoulder.

I really shouldn’t even be writing this because someday soon I’m going to ask for a bunch of money to make this vision come true and who wants to invest in someone who just isn’t sure. But the thing is…I am sure. I’m so sure, in fact, that I let women come take over my kitchen every Wednesday so we can make salsa. I’m so sure that I spend hours thinking about it, praying and dreaming up ways I can actually make this work. The whole idea of Rosie’s expanding and salsa being the means to provide jobs, it’s a vision…a holy, holy vision. And, I can’t let it go.

I just know it’s going to be hard. So, I say that here, right now in this space. It’s going to be hard. I say this knowing I need people; people who will walk alongside, dream with me, invest in this and donate to the dream. I need a body to make this happen. I need God to work His magic and make miracles happen. I say this knowing it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I say this knowing God is calling me to this place, even if my selfish, human desires just want waffle fries and America. I say this commiting to a future unknown, but a future full of women whose lives have been transformed from the small, small seeds I plant today in this commitment.


So, to the stranger who asked me about Haiti? I say “come” but only come with a broken, open and willing heart to be transformed. Don’t come thinking you know it all, in fact, come only to learn. Come with a mind-set to change – to change your way of thinking, your way of seeing the world, your way of living in the world. If Haiti doesn’t ruin you and inspire you to be a person who brings change to the world, a person who fights for the orphan and the family unit, a person who lives wasted in service…then you didn’t come to Haiti for the right reason. And if you didn’t come to Haiti for the right reason, just don’t come at all. Because Haiti doesn’t need another “I can save them all” missionary. She doesn’t need another orphanage or someone who has come to hug the poor orphans. She doesn’t need another hand-out or another painted house. She needs grace…so much grace, and compassion. She needs commitment. She needs people willing to say, “I can do hard.” She needs warriors. She needs reckless. She needs loud voices who speak truth. She needs people who fight to bring change.

Haiti, as well as the entire world, needs broken people. Broken people willing to live broken…willing to live given.

So, come…but, only come broken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

finding peace

My oldest Jeffte struggles in school and I wish I could provide him with all of the educational resources in America. My other son, Loveson, loves every sport out there, so I wish I could provide him with opportunities to play on organized sports teams. My little one Wishla has HIV and her one blood count is always high so I wish I could provide her with better healthcare. My littlest, Rubie Jo, doesn’t even know it yet, but she’s growing up in the poorest world in the Western hemisphere and things can be a little crazy here.

As a mama to four, I struggle knowing I could be providing my children with better. Better education opportunities. Better extracurricular opportunities. Better healthcare. I could be raising them in a safer environment, where threats of unsafe demonstrations don’t knock on our door. Where the roads are paved and people have real rules for the road. Where there are playgrounds and sidewalks and zoos and fairs. Where there are sporting events and concerts and movie theaters.

This last November I was traveling down a national highway with four friends. We came upon a one-vehicle accident that had five fatalities and several severely injured victims. It just so happened that my friends were all medical personal, so we jumped out of the vehicle to help. I was the only non-medical personal, but the only one who spoke Creole. I sat in the dirt next to a man with a severe laceration on the back of his head, appearing to have a broken leg and arm. I tried keeping him awake by asking him his name and telling him everything would be okay – not knowing if it really would be. Five feet away from me lay a man covered in dust. He didn’t seem real. But, he was and he had just lost his life. In the background I could see my friends scurrying to the other victims but everything seemed so blurry. So unreal. I continued to sit in the dirt, pressing the back of his head. I learned his name; it was Renald.

I would eventually look up above me and notice the presence of the police. But, I would quickly learn they weren’t there to help. The police officer standing above me was in fact taking a picture of Renald and me. Many more people would come running to the scene and they would step over the body of the man who laid just five feet away from me. It was as if he wasn’t even there.

Eventually the injured would be put on public transportation and transported to a hospital. There were chances they would be turned away from whichever hospital they would go to and I would never know if Renald would be okay.

A few days later, Rubie and I went to Rosie’s and I had my first real anxiety attack of my life. All I could see was her and I getting in an accident and people just standing over our bodies as if we weren’t even real. Police would show up to the scene only to take pictures of us, not to help. I pictured Rubie in critical condition, being rushed to the hospital, only to be turned away.

A week would pass and I would see Renald in my dreams. I would dream of the accident scene and see the dead man covered in dust. I would drive with a constant knot in my stomach for the next month. Fear and anxiety would rule over me.

I went home in January an emotional hot mess. I sought out counseling and the wise counselor told me I needed to dedicate my kids to the Lord. I came to the realization that I can’t save my kids from the world. The cons definitely outweigh the pros for raising kids in Haiti, but I know this is where we are suppose to be for this season of life. The Lord has put so many dreams before us and they’re to be lived out in Haiti. So knowing this, I knew I had to give my kids to the Lord.

Jeffte may struggle in school, but I believe the Lord will provide a way for him to succeed. Loveson may be a leader and a sport-enthusiast, but the Lord will provide an outlet for his talents. Wishla may have HIV, but the Lord has provided us with free medicine and a doctor in Haiti. Rubie may not know it yet, but the Lord is making a way for her as well.

I also accepted the truths that accidents are going to happen no matter what country we live in. Sickness and illness will take over our bodies and not even the best doctors in America will be able to save us. I trust the Lord will protect us as we walk in his will. And lastly I believe Jesus is going to come back, so I put my hope in that.

I personally gave my anxiety and children to the Lord in January and this last weekend we publically dedicated them before family and friends. I haven’t had the knotted pit of anxiety in my stomach since January and for that I praise the Lord as well.

Thank you to my family and friends who stood beside us last weekend. And thank you to everyone else who walks beside us on this journey and loves us for where we are at. And thanks to my awesome friend Jamie for capturing these beautiful photos!

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Lazarus Fund: a shout out!

I just needed to write a post to let you all know how you make my ENTIRE – heart, soul and mind – life easier here in Haiti by making donations to the Lazarus Fund. I haven’t written about it in a long time, so maybe some of you have forgotten about it (click here for initial post about it), but the Lazarus fund is basically my life line and it saves not only me but members of my community all. the. time…

Living in a third world country, you’ll learn rather quickly that common things like ambulances, emergency rooms and 911 hotlines are no longer available and once you learn this you’ll come to the realization that if you own a vehicle in your small remote village you are now the ambulance driver and your phone number is now the 911 hotline.

So, when a worker at the bakery smashes his hand in a machine, your team shows up. When an employee at the orphanage suddenly loses her 22-year-old son, you show up. When a young mother has a premature baby, you’re there for her. When another young man in the community breaks his arm, you make sure he gets to the hospital and has it casted.

And while I type you here in these scenarios and you’re thinking it was actually me there, that might be right, but I tell ya, I was only the vessel. The only reason I had the resources to show up in the fist place was because there was funding in the Lazarus Fund. You may not realize it, but $14 (1,000 haitian goudes) can get a mama and her new baby to a clinic to get proper follow-up after babe is born in a dirt hut. Another $28 can get a broken arm casted and healed. And, $300 can ease a mama’s heart as she properly lays her deceased son to rest.

Those numbers may not seem like much to you, but here, in our corner of the world, in the reality of third-world livin’…it saves us.

Not a lot of words for this post, but just a shout out and a sincere thank you for trusting me with your money, for investing in our ministry and community and for helping save us.


 

How to donate:

through PayPal: click here

cash or check send to: 205 Old Mill Lane, Rock Rapids, Iowa 51246

*make memo of Lazarus Fund for donations*

holy salsa

Three years ago we said good-bye to little Rosie. I can hardly believe it’s been that long already. But, it has. And somehow the world has kept on turning.

Here we are three exact years later and Judeline, Rosie’s mom, has just given birth to another baby girl, Gracie. Gracie was born October 29 and she makes Rubie look like a giant baby. Rubie has chubby, round features and Gracie has tiny, petite features.

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We had a scare as Gracie turned two weeks old. An infection settled deep into her femur bone and it took quite a while to figure out what was happening. By the grace of God, Gracie’s parents were able to find a hospital that could do the necessary procedure on her leg that would get rid of her infection. Pretty scary stuff for such a small infant, especially in this country. But, surgery went well and Gracie was able to come home last Friday.

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visiting Gracie at the hospital

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Judeline and Gracie have been resting and healing at my house this past week and I find God’s timing quite ironic that He would have them at my house on the anniversary of Rosie’s death. At first, I was questioned WHY? Why this week? Why this season, when it is already so hard. Why make us walk through so much again? I feared the worse for Gracie on surgery day as I relived seeing Rosie on life support at the hospital three exact years prior. But, as I have been processing, God is also showing me how He is always making a new work in us. How He continues to gift us with life. How Gracie is His perfect gift to us. In no way am I saying Gracie is replacing Rosie, but I’m seeing how He redeems us and breathes life back into us while also gifting us with new life.

I no longer work for ViBella Jewelry, but the artisans there are a big part of who I am in Haiti. They’re a huge support system to me and my family. And two days ago the entire gang was together at my house to hang out with Judeline. We started talking about Rosie’s and for the first time I told all the women about my new dream for a bigger Rosie’s and Salsa Sisters – Haitians aren’t very familiar with salsa, so explaining the phenomena of a salty chip dipped in a delicious concotion of vegetables can be quite difficult. But, it’s funny how they immediately saw my dream. One chuckled and confidantly said, “Only God could give you dreams like these!”

As sisters, who have been through so much in five years, we dreamt together that afternoon. We bounced chunky Rubie and petite Gracie on our legs. We “ooh’d” and “ahh’d” over them. We recognized just how profoundly blessed we are to have new mercies showered upon us each and every day.

They spent several more hours hanging out upstairs as Gertrude and Anise, the first two employees for Salsa Sisters, came to the house to make salsa. This week was our second week making salsa at my house. The group came down to say good-bye and I gave them a taste of our salsa. They were asking all sorts of questions and a few said they want to come some week to learn how to make salsa as well!

And what I saw in that moment was holy.

For five years these artisans have been working hard to make a life for themselves through their jobs with ViBella and five years later they’re confidant and so full of blessings… they’re overflowing, really. There they were encouraging my Starfish women in their new work. Telling them to pray for God to bless the salsa. To have the faith. To keep the faith. To trust the One in whom we have the faith.

It’s funny how a kitchen full of women laughing, encouraging each other all the while eating salsa can be so holy.

I have this vision of a kitchen full of women cuttin’ and slicin’ all sorts of colorful vegetables. They’re tossin’ and mixin’ all the vegetables and cannin’ them for all the world to eat. They’re sisters. They’ve got each other’s back and they’re finding freedom from poverty through a job and in Jesus. They’re more than just sisters, they’re sisters in Christ. They’re Salsa Sisters.

God gave me a glimpse of this vision the other day. I don’t know where the money is going to come from to make this all come true, but I know it will come and this kitchen, this salsa, this adventure…it’s gonna be holy. And, delicious. Because, who doesn’t love a good bowl of salsa!

Donate to the Rosie’s expansion project today to help make our visions of a Salsa Sisters kitchen come true!

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Donations can be sent to

Touch of Hope

205 Old Mill Lane

Rock Rapids, Iowa 51246

*memo: Salsa Sisters or Rosie’s expansion*

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

OR click here to make a donation through PayPal

 

this |part 3|

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Our first batch of salsa served at Rosie’s!

Over the last six months we have started holding worship services each Sunday at Tytoo. It’s kind of like a house church, you could say. We are inviting, who we believe, are the overlooked in our community. Webert and his cousin, Blondino, lead the services. Another member from the community has really stepped up in leadership as well as one of our own security guards from the orphanage. We have seen a few of our orphanage children accept Jesus and get baptized. This past week-end Loveson and Jeffte also accepted Jesus! Stories of redemption are beginning to be told and it’s crazy what can happen when you ask for the Spirit to show up and work among a group of messy people.

Last week when ten women showed up at Tytoo’s gate all asking for me, I had no idea what to tell them, (see previous blog) so I extended them an invitation to our service on Sunday. This last week we also had a visiting team working at Tytoo and one of their projects was building us more benches for church. At first I didn’t really think we needed so many more built, but I was proven wrong as these ten women and their children filled our new benches.

It was the largest gathering we have had thus far and the Holy Spirit sent goose bumps up my spine as the shelter echoed with hallelujiah’s.

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At the end of the service Blondino asked if anyone wanted to accept Jesus and a tiny woman made her way to the front. Tears welled in her eyes and her voice crackled as she told us all about her husband’s death and her struggle to care for her two young children. Before her husband passed away, he asked her to find a church so she could have a new family. So, on Sunday we held her hands and welcomed her into our messy family of believers.

This. This is the kind of holiday season I want to be a part of.

After church, a group of us headed to Minoterie to hand the keys to a brand new house over to Marie Marthe, a woman of the Starfish Program. As we clapped and celebrated, Marie Marthe reminisced on all the nights she didn’t sleep because the rain would fall inside on her and her five children. With the sweetest of smiles painted across her face, she told us how she couldn’t wait to sleep soundly when it rains.

How simple. How beautiful. How incredible. It’s amazing what $4,000 can do for a family, how their entire lives can be transformed by a simple concrete floor and a solid tin roof over their heads.

Sleep well, dear one.

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Marie Marthe’s old house hides to the right of her beautiful new home!

Again, this. This is how I think Jesus wants us to celebrate his birthday.

This season, I commit myself to holding hands with the ones who feel unheard and forgotten. This season, I want to make a way for job creation and invest in something that will actually make a difference. This season, I want to have the faith to walk out the visions the Lord has laid upon my heart.

This season I’m also going to get a little crazy. So, brace yourselves, I’m about to reveal to you my craziest of ideas yet! I really feel like the Lord has laid a new vision on my heart and it’s time for me to go from praying about it and thinking about it and enter into a season where I put these thoughts into action. For faith without actions is dead, and I’m not about to be caught with a faith like that this time of year.

So, this is me, putting it out there for the world to see:

The vision of Rosie’s was given to me a little over three years ago. I was beginning to see the direct impact full-time employment could have for a family and I wanted to fight for that. At this time, I was also realizing Haiti wasn’t going to be a short-time gig for me. With an engagement ring on my finger, I wasn’t just making a commitment to Webert, I was making one to a life in Haiti as well. Rosie’s was a vision to continue making an impact on people’s lives by helping promote their goods and a means to have a business that would make my family sustainable.

Rosie’s has become a beautiful place, where people visiting can see all the beautiful things being made by its own people. It’s also a place to find rest and a cool, refreshing drink – who can’t pass up a cookies and cream milkshake or frozen lemonade when it’s 95 degrees out! Rosie’s income also allows Webert and I to have our family’s basic needs met (we are really proud of the fact that we do not have to raise support!)

About a year ago I started parking my vehicle in an empty lot next door. Many months passed and I never paid much attention to the space, but one day it was like the blindfolds had been taken off of me. All of a sudden I was envisioning a building standing there; a building so large I would have more space for retail, a café could be built and space for people to sit and hang out. The walls all of a sudden went from unfinished and grey to bright colors with elaborate gates!

So, for the past few months, any time any one comes to visit me, I pull my vehicle into this empty lot and tell them about my vision. Before I left for the States, a man randomly walked into Rosie’s and asked me if I was interested in buying the piece of land where I park my car. I joked that I would love to but I didn’t have the money. He offered me the land for $20,000 and walked out the door.

As I spent two months in the States, I thought about this space. I have lots of great ideas to expand Rosie’s, but I’m literally out of room to make any of them become a reality.

A week before traveling back to Haiti, my family and I made a road trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota to get Rubie’s passport. As I was driving home, with everyone else asleep in the vehicle, I began to think about Rosie’s. I thought about all the women I would have to face upon my return. I thought about the need for jobs. I thought about salsa and chips.

As I drove, I envisioned this space of women making salsa. I thought of all the people coming through Rosie’s eating all of our salsa. I thought about the groceries stores that only sell imported salsa for a ridiculous price. I thought about canning salsa and selling it to the grocery stores and to the beach resorts. I thought about the plantain chips that I buy on the side of the road and how delicious they would be in salsa.

I recognized the fact that I’ve never made homemade salsa in my life. I have never canned a single can of anything in my entire life either. I thought about how insane I was in that exact moment for even thinking about all of this salsa.I feel crazy even typing this all out.

So last week after I invited these ten women to church – because that’s all I could do – I Googled homemade salsa, made a grocery list and went to the local market and bought all the ingredients you need to make salsa. I invited some friends over to sample. I made up a bowl and served it to our visiting team at Tytoo. I brought the leftovers to bible study and shared my vision with the women there.

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As I held hands with the woman who had just accepted Jesus on Sunday, I couldn’t help but think about her making salsa and that’s when the Lord gave me the name:

Salsa Sisters

just a bunch of Sisters, gathered around making salsa,

making a way to take care of our children one can of salsa at a time

This. This is only something my God could dream up. Now it’s up to me to walk in faith and watch Him work His wonders.

So, who’s up for some salsa!?


 

I’m praying for the Lord to open the doors for us to buy my dream piece of land and build a beautiful, big new Rosie’s where salsa will be served every day of the week. Interested in being a part of something…something crazy that may just pave the way and break the chains of poverty? Something that may just bring the change we have been praying for? Something a little untraditional this holiday season? Well, this. This could be it.

The price of the land has now gone down to $17,000 and we believe the construction of a new building would be around $35,000.

Donations can be sent to

Touch of Hope

205 Old Mill Lane

Rock Rapids, Iowa 51246

*memo: Salsa Sisters or Rosie’s expansion*

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

OR click here to make a donation through PayPal

If you would like to hear more about my vision and learn more information about Salsa Sisters and Rosie’s expansion, please contact me directly at rosiesboutique.haiti@gmail.com

Love from Haiti

this |Part 2|

This.

This has by far been one of the hardest transitions back to Haiti.

I’ve been trying to go at the same 100 mph pace I’ve been living at the last four years but trying to also slow down and treasure this sweet time with Rubie Jo.

I’ve been whispering to myself “slow down” but at the same time I feel this new sense of urgency to keep going 100 mph in order to help all the mamas around me.

This past week ten women showed up at the Tytoo gate asking for me. I had planned a meeting with three of them, so when ten walked through the gate you can imagine how surprised I was. I had no idea what I was going to say to them. I knew exactly what they were going to ask for: jobs and help. And, I knew I really had nothing to offer.

The women filled a small wooden bench, each of them touching shoulder-to-shoulder. I sat down in a plastic chair before them with Mami Sarah (our head Haitian mami at the orphanage, who also helps me and Lindsay with the Starfish Program) feeling a sense of defeat settling down deep.

One by one they told me their name. One by one they told me how many children they had. One by one they told me they have no hope because they have no way to provide for their children. One by one they told me how desperately they needed jobs. One by one they told me about the tents they and their children live in. One by one I looked them right in their eyes.

The last woman answered all my questions; I closed my notebook and closed my eyes. And this…this is what the Holy Spirit led me to tell them:

“I have two things to tell you today: First, you all know I just recently had a baby. Having this baby has changed my life. I’ve lived in Haiti for over four and a half years and I’ve seen and learned how hard life is here. I look at my baby and I cannot fathom how any mother would ever be able to abandon her child at an orphanage gate because she couldn’t take care of him or her. I know how much I love my baby girl and I know you all love your children the same.”

They all nodded in agreement. Judelande, a mother to three, sat in the middle of the bench and locked eyes with me with a shy smile on her face. I don’t now anything about her past and she knows nothing about mine, but I felt this deep understanding between the both of us in that moment because we both knew how much we love our babies.

I continued, “I want to be able to do everything I can to help you all take care of your children, because I never want to see a mom have to leave her child at an orphanage. Nothing breaks my heart more than this reality. Thinking about having to leave Rubie at an orphanage because I couldn’t take care of her is so unfathomable…”

I talked about God’s justice and how I don’t understand it sometimes. I talked about how I wanted to stay in America with my baby and not come back to Haiti because I knew it was going to be really hard for me. I told them the only reason I was sitting in that plastic chair before them was because I want nothing more than for them to be able to take care of their babies.

Tears welled in my eyes and they stayed quiet as I felt all of our mama hearts take a big ol’ sigh together, because, let’s be honest, the beautiful burden of motherhood is not always easy. And on this day all I could do was look these brave women in the eyes and share this burden with them, all the while having absolutely no idea how we would move forward!

I ended by saying this:

“I’m sorry I don’t have anything to offer to you today, but I have seen and I have looked all of you in the eyes. I will not forget you as I have seen you and have heard your struggles. I will continue to fight for you and your families every day to the best of my abilities.”

And while they may have been disappointed I couldn’t offer them anything physically, I did see a sense of relief in some of their eyes as I believe that sometimes all they really need is for someone to really see them. I felt like the Holy Spirit needed me to reassure them that they are seen and heard and never forgotten.

I say all of this because it’s Thanksgiving day and while we all count our blessings, I’m choosing to see the burden of these women needs as a blessing instead of an actual burden. I felt blessed as the Holy Spirit led me to share very honestly with them this past week, hoping that at least one of them, if not all of them, felt seen and heard by our Father.

People, it’s that time of year where I struggle so much. I miss celebrating the holidays in America, but I also despise our society for the amount of abundance we have around this time of year. The abundance of food. The abundance of gifts. The abundance of spending money on things we don’t really need.

Really, I just want to be a part of something bigger this holiday season…I want to be a part of something that involves these women who feel lost and unseen. Women who have to scramble each and every day to fill their babies’ stomachs. Women who live in fear each time it rains because a single rain could devastate all of their belongings in their tattered tents they call home. Women who are equally as blessed as I am with the beautiful burden of motherhood.

I want to be a part of something that changes the world. Something that brings that hope, the hope which gave us a season to celebrate to begin with. Something.

this |Part 1|

Little, perfect lines and wrinkles fall across the top of her fingers. And she folds these fingers into the tiniest of fists and shoves these fists into her little, chubby cheeks. And there she rests, with her perfect lips and chubby cheeks and baby fists with little wrinkled fingers.

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I sit there and stare, wondering how in the world did my body actually make a real human. An incredibly adorable human, for that matter. And my heart melts and my soul shakes and the reality of being a mama frightens me all over again.

I rock her to sleep and wipe her milk-drunk spit away. My house is quiet and I close my eyes as I listen to the sounds of the waves outside my bedroom window.

We’ve come home to Haiti and I don’t want to get up from this rocking chair. I want to stay here in my quiet house where it’s safe. Where the dark, harsh truths of home don’t get to come inside my gate.


When I traveled to the States in September there were five women just as pregnant as myself and I promised to cover them in prayer while I waited to deliver my own.

A few weeks into my stay I got news that one of the women’s baby didn’t make it. I met Marie Maude when she was seven months pregnant with her third child at the age of twenty-two. She was homeless and had yet to see a doctor when I first met her. We were able to put her in our rescue house, reunite her with her two older daughters and get her to a doctor. I left her for the States and couldn’t wait for my baby to meet hers. In my perfect world, we would snap pictures of our babies and us together and I would watch this little family prosper and grow.

Marie Maude would go into labor mid-September and was rushed to a hospital by our Tytoo team and hospital #1 would turn her away. She was rushed to a second hospital and it was there that the baby lost his life. She was then rushed to a third hospital for an emergency C-section and it was there that she almost lost her own life. Mom is okay today, but we lost a baby boy.

I would deliver Rubie Jo a couple weeks after hearing the news of Marie Maude and her face would come to mind as I pushed for my own to come. When my water broke at 3 a.m. we didn’t have to worry about being turned away at a hospital; we knew right where to go. A lovely lady checked us into the hospital and within an hour I had a delivery suite all to my sweet self. I had heart monitors wrapped around me: one for me and one for baby. A blood pressure cuff would go off automatically every few minutes as I was hooked up to monitors and screens. Doctors, surgeons and specialists were all at the tip of our fingers if something were to go wrong.

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Rubie Jo spent five days in the NICU after delivery; we are so grateful that God led us to the States for a safe delivery

I missed Marie Maude. I wish we could have switched places. I wish she could have had access to real medical treatment when she went into labor a few weeks prior. I will never know if there were more issues going on with her baby boy, but chances are he was healthy and we lost him because life in Haiti sucks and hospitals aren’t equipped to take care of their own.

I know there are a million reasons to complain about healthcare in America (I just saw the total of my hospital bill and it’s basically an entire college education) but, at least we have healthcare. Women in labor get to have entire teams of nurses and doctors to help them deliver their babies; people with cancer get to be cured; people don’t die of preventable diseases and illnesses and how this list could go on forever…

Our smallest aches and pains are taken care of by our healthcare system, while people in Haiti live and suffer their entire lives due to a lack of healthcare. I recently heard a story of a woman having a SEVEN POUND mass removed from her breast. She only carried this mass around for sixteen years. Seriously.

All this to say, I’m so grateful for the care I received in America, but there was a sense of guilt I carried as I pushed for Rubie to come. It didn’t seem right or okay that I could provide all of this to Rubie, but Marie Maude couldn’t for her children. I think it’s easy to read the statistics of how many impoverished women and children die in childbirth because of lack of healthcare, but when you know their names and faces and want to see their children grow it hurts. It hurts in the deepest parts of the soul.

I brought Rubie Jo to meet Marie Maude the other day and I felt an emptiness, like something was missing…and that’s because something was.

If only we could have done better for Marie Maude…

I’m want to do better for her.


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Antoinette is my Haitian mamni, it was such a joy to introduce her to Rubie

Haiti is different now that I’m back with a newborn.

A total of eleven women have come to ask me for help in the short ten days I’ve been back. One of these women gave birth to a baby boy, Peterson, on September 23. She explained to me how he is suffering in her care because she doesn’t have anyone to help take care of him and she has no work.

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A group of six women meet with Webert and I this past week at the school, all in needs of jobs and hope for the children

I go back to my little one with her perfect wrinkled fingers and tiny fists and chubby cheeks. And I think how I’m doing everything in my being to make sure she can go as long as possible to not know pain or suffering.

And now this mama – a woman just like me, trying to do all she can for her little – is tearing up as she tells me how much he suffers.

And what am I suppose to do. I can barely handle my own hormones these days. This. This is just too much.

But, this. This is also my purpose and as much as I want to run away – run fast away, run back to the safety and comfort I so enjoyed in the States – I can’t. Because, I’ve seen the dark and harsh truths of the world and I won’t run away from them. I know we can do better…for the sake of these mamas and babies. For the sake of our own babies.

To be continued…

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Peterson, his mama, Rubie and myself