a happy soul

by Kayla Raymond

It’s easy to get caught up in poverty. In its complexity. In its severity. In its unfairness. In it all. It is harder than what I ever imagined and no matter how many books or articles I read about it none of them will ever make me an expert on it.

It is easy to lose patience, motivation and hope. It’s easy to come up with excuses and have pity parties. It is scary how quickly my heart becomes hard and my soul dark.

But then I experience these moments with people who have been trapped in poverty their entire lives. They’ve endured it. They live life with grace. They’re my super heroes, role models and inspiration. They have taken my perspective on life, turned it inside out and leave me with a happy soul.


These two little girls, Dieulina and Gesperline, light up my world. They’re two of the original children that I first got to know in Simonette and made me fall in love with Haiti. They’ve been my teachers, inspiration and best little friends. They make my soul happy.

I think I’ve written about my friend Antoinette before. She takes care of her granddaughter, who is orphaned because her dad was shot by gangsters and mom died when she was a baby. Antoinette herself is a mother to eleven of her own children. But, she’s so sweet. I wish I had more time in my day to visit her and more chances to just go and give her a hug. She’s one of those ladies I could just sit and listen to her life story and be inspired. Every time I see her, she makes my soul happy.


I wrote about Amelisa last month. A little girl with a severe genetic bone disease, who chose to come live at Tytoo just so she could go to school for the first time in her life. She sits on the front bench in class, between two classmates, and her voice rings pure joy as she sings along with her teacher and classmates. I’m watching a little girl’s dream come true and that makes my soul happy.


I met baby Princess well over two months ago. She was born with a brain deformity and has only half of a brain. She has no reflexes and lies there quite lifeless, but her mom does an amazing job loving her and can even makes her smile. Most would argue that baby Princess’s life has no meaning, but having the privilege of meeting her and seeing how much her mom loves and cares for her, makes my soul happy. My life is changed because of them.

so much attitude!

so much attitude!

Filane is one of the craziest women I know. She has more attitude in the tip of her fingers than I do in my whole body. She dances and sings, makes jokes, gives the biggest hugs and loves Jesus. I wish I were as confidant and crazy as she is. She just recently became and employed and her “mate” is now a security guard at my house. They hope to save their earnings and get married soon. They make soul happy.

(Most Haitians wait many years to get married because they can’t afford a ceremony. They will live together and have children together, but will never get married. This is just another reason why employment is so valuable and needed.)


Angeline was the first mother to ever give birth at Tytoo’s clinic. It was a stressful morning when she arrived at the gate at 6:30 a.m. in active labor, but holding an hour old baby was amazing. Angeline is now employed at Tytoo as a laundry lady and her baby girl is doing amazing and is beautiful. Easy proof that Tytoo’s clinic is impacting lots of lives and that my friends, makes my heart happy.


This is Naika, our newest rescue baby at Tytoo. Her dad could no longer take care of her and was abandoned at our gates. She’s the sweetest thing I ever did see. It makes my soul happy knowing we can provide hope to the least of these in our area.


I took time to recognize most of these lives as we dedicated the new praise & worship center on Tytoo’s ground this past Wednesday. A team from Canada came and built the amazing new center. Not only will Sunday worship services start being held here, but it will become a gathering space for fellowship, a place for the children to play, a waiting room for patients at the clinic and a shaded area for other miscellaneous activities. Tytoo Gardens has never felt so alive, and for that my soul is very happy.


Wishla loves helping the boys do their homework

Wishla loves helping the boys do their homework


The consistency and craziness of my little family brings complete joy to my life. Wishla wakes up smiling and is just a quiet, content and joyful little soul. Her brothers keep the house dirty, loud and active but they’re so sweet to their momma. They’re growing up way too quickly, though. My fiancé makes my soul quite happy too!

less than two months until we say "i do"

less than two months until we say “i do”


Last but not least, this newborn, fluffy donkey makes my soul probably too happy. We had to put Arthur down this past summer after having been hit by something and it just so turns out that this baby donkey is Arthur’s little brother! I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with donkeys, but seriously, how can you not love him!? My parents are not very convinced of the idea of another donkey, but he’s just so fluffy!!

Miracle babies, amazing and strong mothers, fluffy donkeys, family, God’s provisions with a lot of laughter and grace make for a happy soul. OH! And this random man I met in market yesterday, he has an ice cream business on wheels. He pushes around a soft serve ice cream machine that is powered by a small generator and the whole idea of it just made me laugh, how genius is he!


Ice cream will always make my soul happy.

Love from Haiti.