followingthejourney

to Haiti and more

Final Thoughts

Friends, I deeply apologize for never writing again after week three. Things got a little busy in Jacmel, and I never got back to writing anything down (which I am going to greatly regret…….you know I may just have to do it again so I can better document everything!)

Regardless, here are my thoughts on my summer/some things those of you who may be looking to travel down may want to read.

Where do I even begin on this summer?!? From the very beginning, the beauty of God’s creations has overwhelmed my heart and my mind. There is not a day gone by that I have not reminisced about the children at Children’s Hope, the Haitian workers, the missionaries I stayed with and met, and the landscape. This summer I have been constantly reminded of how unfathomable the beauty of God and what he has made. What a great God we serve!

Let me share a few lessons that I have picked up on, as well as some other observations and words of encouragement for those who are looking to go down. Before traveling down, the one specific thing to pray for is for your heart to be always open to the Haitian people. Their culture is obviously going to be different than ours, so be ready for anything and everything. But regardless of our differences, the love that we and that many of the Haitians have for our Lord and Savior, and our same committed devotion to bring those here and there to Christ will drive you to work…hard! Your plans will change many, many times, but do not let that discourage you. Embrace each new change within the culture and go with it! There were many times that I had one thing planned, and we did something completely different, whether that was planning a trip for the day, a lesson, an activity, etc. It made me realize even more to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide our paths from day to day.

Look at everything as a learning experience. I would be lying if I said that I was happy and joyful every moment of the day. There were times that I struggled with what was going on around me, but if I had not believed that every moment was a chance for God to teach me something, I would have burned out fast this summer. In everything, God taught me and showed me, and I cannot look back with any regrets on this summer.

Lastly, and most importantly, be ready to be LOVED by the children at Children’s Hope! As soon as you step off the tap tap for the very time onto the campus, the children are there to welcome you to their home. Their bright faces looking at everyone, each trying to decide who is going to be their buddy for the time being. And then they ask you what is your name…in English! Talk about being WOWed! Every time we went to the children’s home with a new team, all of the kids had been picked up or were talking to one person within five minutes. They know how to instantly steal your hearts. And that was one of the hardest lessons for me this summer. Prepare to have your heart broken when it is time to say goodbye. The children and I both knew that the day was coming when I would be saying goodbye. And it was the hardest goodbye I have ever experienced. But the memories of my little buddies Lovenson and Alexis, the devilish grin of Kenson and Casimir, the great smile of Myson, the tender hear of Geralda and Fedline, and all of their laughs will be something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

I am so incredibly thankful to have spent my summer at Children’s Hope. I thank God everyday for the opportunities he gave me to teach me and to grow me. For those who look to go down, be expectant for God to do mighty things in you and through you in Jacmel, Haiti.

Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.

The journey will continue.

Three

Here are my updates for week three! They are all random stories, but they were all highlights of the week

I was sick Monday, and part of Tuesday. Luckily there was a pediatrician who came down last week, so he got me some meds, and I was on my feet Tues afternoon. Not fun.

We have two kids that live down the road from us who come up every day and yell “I love you!” which to them translates to give me juice, candy, crackers, etc, which Ms. Joy does graciously. This week they kept coming up to Ms. Joy and saying something over and over again. One day she got one of our translators to go out with her to see what they were saying. From what we gathered, their mother (who works at the end of the street selling small boxes of candy/medicine/whatever) wanted us to know that we could take her kids to live with us. I’m tearing up writing this. It is not apparent that the kids are abused or mistreated in any way. They are always with their mom when we turn on the road (they chase us whenever we come home), so the relationship between them looks in check. Yet, she is willing to give them away to us. 

It looks like scabies has infested the boys dorm at the children’s home. Luckily, the doctor sent some tubes of medicine for them with the team that came down friday night. If we use it instead of the pills, each child has to be covered in the cream from the hairline to the bottoms of their feet. My buddy Lovenson has the worst case of it. He’s been on my shoulders, in my arms, holding my hand. Scabies is spread through skin contact. So there may be a chance I and any other person who has played with the boys can get them. And guess who will be distributing the ointment? Me! Hah, that should be a fun time….Did not see that on the list of intern duties…No, it will be an adventure that will surely get me out of my comfort zone, but who needs comfort when you are here serving the Great Comforter?

Speaking of medical treatment, today there was a child at the church where we were hosting a men and women’s bible study that at first looked like he had a burn on his arm. Matthew (the other intern) and I went home to get him some neosporin and a band aid. When we got back I got a closer look and saw that it is most definitely ring worm. I still cleaned it up and put on neosporin and a band aid on it, then told him we would come back with some more medicine to help him.

All throughout treating him, I couldn’t help but be thinking of my dad. Considering that yesterday was Father’s Day, I feel like it is most appropriate to give him a shout out to say that I love you. While I’m not the best at looking at wounds, blood, or broken bones like he is, I know that my heart to care for those who are sick and hurting comes from him. I am thankful that I have an amazing dad and an incredible family, and for my God who has blessed me with them. Props to Ms. Patty Roper for letting me use her phone to call him and both of my grandfathers yesterday to wish them a Happy Father’s Day. Thanks.

On a different note: I have become good friends with the two tap-tap drivers that we use. We are helping each other learn the others language, which can be fun. Junior and I had a moment Saturday where something happened and he was laughing so hard he was seriously crying. I haven’t seen a Haitian laugh so hard. It was pretty stupid what I did, so I’m thankful that he could laugh about it. Daniel, the other driver, likes to challenge me with sentences that are composed of a mix between Spanish and Kreyol, which is really fun. I am working on learning the language, so I am thankful that they are helping.

Last night we spent a solid 3 hours at the kindergarten graduation for 5 of our kiddos in the children’s home. They were all dressed in new white dresses and white button downs with tiny black bowties. It was quite a long time to be honest since we didn’t understand a word that was said, but we were happy to see the kids show off some of their artwork, recite poems, and get their diplomas. We all road back together in the tap-tap, as in there were 8 of us, 9 kids, and 2 workers from the house. We were all really packed in tight with the rain pouring down around us. The sweetest part of the night was to watch the kids who graduated share their food with the other kids who came. They were all passing around little sandwiches, cake, drinks. Even though they are without their mother and father, they show each other love like no other. It is an absolute blessing for me to be a part of their lives this summer. It’s just great down here.

Lord, teach us to be generous.

Teach us to serve as you deserve,

to give and not to count the cost,

to fight and not to heed the wounds,

to toil and not to seek rest,

to labor and not to ask for reward,

save that of knowing that we do your will.

Let the journey continue. 

The Kiddos part 1

The children at the children’s home are wonderful. They each are unique in their own way, and they have so much talent and potential. It blows me away at how beautiful each and every one of them are, and how they are looking for love, laughter, and life.

I am going to try to mention all of them, but I may have to group some of them together because I still haven’t come around to getting to know all of them. But here we go!

Myson is the oldest of the group. He is behind in school, but I know that Davidson the tutor is working diligently with him. He always has a great smile, and I have yet to see him be mad, be whiney, or anything like that.

Alexis is the baby boy. When I go over there in the afternoon, after playing a while, he will crawl up in my lap and falls asleep fast. I am pretty sure he has taken a nap every day that I have been there. He is usually pretty quiet, but he loves being up on someone’s shoulders.

Lovenson’s smile is contaigious. Some call him the Pillsbury Dough Boy because as soon as you pick him up, or even start to tickle him, he has the largest smile of all. He likes for me to pick him up and carry him around. He also loves sucru, or anything with sugar in it. He has stolen my heart. Precious.

Christine is the baby girl. She cries a good bit, but also has a giggly laugh. They call her Titi. If I ever ask her to do something, or I tell her no, she typically looks at me and laughs.

Nathalie and Daphne are older, and don’t interact with me much. When they do it is normally to mess with me, which I let them and we laugh.

Elida, Nana, Lovely, and Silmaine are the four oldest girls, and they love sitting with me and working on their English. They are really smart from what I can tell, and they always listen and help us corrale the other kids when needed. I am going to rely on their help when working with all of the kids.

Nana sat with me Friday while many of the kids napped and cried. I don’t know why, but she just sat there with her head down on the table beside me and cried. After a while, she got up, I gave her a hug, and she went off to be with the other children who were still awake. Today she kept pinching me over and over again. But before she left she came over to me, sat in my lap, and gave me a hug. I think we’re cool.

Kenson is the biggest trouble maker. He is always messing with someone, or something, and alot of times that person is me. We had a problem with his pants the other day, and he thought that was the funniest thing. However, he smile is great, and his laugh makes it hard to be upset with him for long. He is going to keep me busy.

Rene and Edith(ed-DEEt), both boys, are just now coming out of their shell. They are quiet, can be loners sometimes, but oh my gosh they are so smart. Edith is picking up English the fastest I think, and I can definitely see him going to school to be a doctor. Rene has a herniated belly button, aka the largest belly button I have ever seen. That sucker is huge. He is really smart too, and he likes to sit with me and chill. He’s the cool one.

Christiella, Geralda, Nicole, and Danaika and I haven’t really interacted much. Nicole typically ignores anything that I say to her, and Christiella and Geralda are either crying or misbehaving….Ok ok, maybe not all the time. But I need to try to get to know them a little bit better.

Fedline is the newest child, and from what I understand she will not be with us much longer. She has a rough story, but she is so sweet. She always wants to be picked up, and she talks so quiet she almost whispers (unless someone upsets her). I hate I won’t be able to spend all summer with her. I hope that where ever she goes, she will keep her smile and sweetness.

Wilemson likes to play, and talks alot. He is no where near as bad as Kenson, but he can get in trouble every once in a while. We have spent alot of time running around playing soccer.

Lastly, Casimir is the artistic genius. Ms. Joy showed me some of his playdough artwork, and it was unreal. He is really smart, but he has two switches, happy and laughing, and crying and pouting. And you get one or the other. Lately he has had a blood blister on his foot that has kept in him in the latter mood for most of the time.

 

Now I have something to ask you all. After reading through these desriptions, I want to ask you to choose one child (or all of them if you want), and commit to praying for that child every day for the next two weeks. All 20 children are listed above, so pick one, pick two, pick 20, and pray. I know many of you don’t know them, all you have is their name and a two sentence description of them. But pray pray pray for these children. They are all precious, and their lives would be greatly impacted by your prayers. If you want to write out a prayer, do it in the comments section below. I will print it, have it translated, and I will pray it with the child. Pray for God to continue to do great things in their lives, and for Him to use me and the others here this summer to show them God’s love.

Lord, teach us to be generous.

Teach us to serve as you deserve,

To give and not to count the cost,

to fight and not to heed the wounds,

to toil and to seek for rest,

to labor and to ask for reward,

save that of knowing that we do your will. Amen.

 

Let the journey continue.

Week 1

See, I told you I was no good at this blog thing…I’m already almost halfway done with week 2, and I’m just now sitting down to write about week 1! It has been pretty busy my first week down here in Jacmel, but so far I am still loving it.

I am already getting to know the kids. I’m known as blan (white), which surprises me because I figure they would start calling me wouz (red) because of my constant sunburn. I don’t even feel it anymore. Oh, my AngloSaxon Irish background. You and the Equator do not get along. I’m hoping to have some tan when I get back, but we will see.

Last week I spent my mornings with Eastern Shore Baptist group doing a VBS in the morning at a small rural church outside of Jacmel. The kids at the children’s home are still in school, so I would go to VBS in the morning and the home in the afternoon. The pastor from ESBC got me to preach on Wednesday, and that was a stretch. The craft was on the Resurrection, so I spoke on ideas of covenant and then somehow got on a tangent about faith. Hopefully it was an okay sermon since I prepared for it 2 hours before. And no, for those of you who know me I did not wait until then to start, I was not told until then. I wouldn’t be that bad of a procrastinator…Anyways, when we got to church on Thursday I believe they had set up a soccer field in front of the church and expected us to play them. I got to be in charge of the camera for the crew so that the camera guy could play since he was our soccer extrordinaire. The Blans didn’t score a goal against them, but it was a good game, and everyone seemed to get a kick out of watching it.

Ms. Donna from ESBC became my friend for the week. She made me laugh a whole lot, and really made the transistion into the summer much much easier. I am constantly thankful for the people that God puts into my life. I hope to keep in touch with her and her husband who also came down. They are a great duo, and they both greatly impacted my first week down here.

Every afternoon I would leave the group and go over to the children’s home. The kids had just gotten there most days, so they would eat and then most likely take a bath. Then some of them would tutor with Davidson, or they would all sit down for English class. We are having some difficulties here, but I know that God is at work here with Davidson, the kids, myself, and the children’s home leaders. Be praying for God’s plan to be clear as we look at how we can tweak some things in order to be efficient with our time and energy when working with the kids on English and tutoring.

Friday through Sunday I got to go to three different beaches all within a 10 mile stretch. It is absolutely unreal to see everyone of those beaches have completely different colored sand. There was a white beach, black (as in the sand looks like potting soil), and a red rocky beach. There are several rocks all in the waters, so it isn’t easy swimming in them. But gosh, they are absolutely beautiful. He makes beautiful things, doesn’t he?

A quick interesting story: On Saturday, we went to the black sand beach while Tommy went to the bank. Matthew (the other intern) and I were walking along when a guy walked up to us. We were waiting for this to happen, but he didn’t appear to have anything to sell us, so we waiting to see what he wanted. He said Hello, and we greeted him. He then began to speak English to us, and it totally threw us off guard. He kept saying “Ya know whatta mean?” in almost a Yankee accent. He started walking with us, and wanted me to ask him questions to help test his English. It was an interesting conversation because he through in several curse words in here or there, but he spoke pretty well. I asked him how he learned, and he told me that he had been watching BET the past three years and had been picking up things. For three years, BET has taught him well. He loves rap, and really loves 50 Cent and JayZ (He referred to them as his n****s), and I had a mental dilemma of whether or not to try and explain to him what he just said, but I kept silent. We walked back to the tap-tap, and we talked about death and I asked him what he thought happened after death. He understood who Christ was, and said that he believed him. Matthew prayed with him at the end, and he went on his way (after asking us for money). His name was Daniel. Pray for him.

 

Next time I hope to update you on some more things about the kids. But tomorrow is fast approaching, and we are traveling to Port Au Prince for an all day trip. And by all day, I mean a 4 hour drive there, 3 hours of shopping for groceries and bibles, and then 4 more hours back. An all day trip….Oy vey. But for now,

Lord, teach me to be generous.

Teach me to serve you as you deserve;

to give and not to count the cost,

 to fight and not to heed the wounds,

to toil and not to seek for rest,

to labor and not to ask for reward,

save that of knowing that I do your will.

 

Let the journey continue.

The Middle Seat

Friends, I’m here! What a journey it has already been. Let’s recap.

Got into  Phenix City last night after running a few errands and saying hey to some family. Got in the bed around 11:30 or so, waking up at 6:30. So, you’d think that I would have gotten what, 7 hours of sleep? Try maybe 3….I had that feeling like when you go to bed on Christmas Eve and you just can’t go to bed because you are anticipating the excitement for the day to come. I remember waking up at some point in the night saying, “…take your iPad out of your lapto bag so that you can have it on the plane.”

Made it to the airport on time, everything was going smooth until security. Since it was only my second time flying, of course there was going to be a problem with my bags. It turns out my peanut butter was an unauthorized liquid/gel because of the size. So I go to watch the lady throw away a brand new bottle of Jiffy Smooth Peanut Butter. There went lunch for the next month… Lesson learned: ALWAYS CHECK YOUR PEANUT BUTTER.

Sat in the middle seat on the plane ride between a Haitian lady and a self-professed “professional tree-hugging hippie”. That was an interesting conversation….But really, we had a good talk. We discussed Earth Day, RailRoad Park in Birmingham, and had a great convo about nature and spirituality. The Haitian lady didn’t speak much English, but she did tell me that she was from Port-au-Prince.

We landed in Port-au-Prince on time, and made our way inside the “airport” aka a warehouse. A guy walked up to us in all of our yellow Haiti shirts and said allo and introduced himself. He then proceeded to take all of our passports and greencards to get them stamps…THAT was a giant leap of faith, but he came right back with them all stamped and it saved us from having to stand in line for forever. We went outside and chaos pursued. There were several men with red hats (red caps) who were all yelling at each other and were trying to take peoples bags to their destination. We walked straight to our van that was going to take us to Jacmel…And THAT, my friends, is when the scariest roller coaster ride of my life happened. Traffic laws are only encouraged, not enforced, and our driver chose not to follow any of them. We were in the middle of the road, passing vans, almost running over mopeds, etc… What Google Maps told me would be a 1 hour and  17 minutes turned into a FOUR HOUR DRIVE. The van was packed, we were scrunged up together, and it was just plain old scary yall. But hey, we made it, and the view was surreal. Absolutely beautiful.

We made it to the Alabama House and I got to catch up with Joy and Tommy. Its going to be great living with them this summer. We left and went to the orphange, and that it when my heart took a giant leap. They kids had just gotten done watching Lion King for the first time, and they all came running out to greet us. As soon as we got off the tap-tap, they were shaking our hands and jumping into our arms. I cannot wait to spend my summer working with them.

Yall, its hot down here…Like realllll hot. The room that me, another intern from Decatur named Matthew, and Jacob a Haitian interpreter live in a smaller room with our own AC. I think that I can handle that. Speaking of which, its about time that I go get in that bed.

It’s been a great day.

Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.

Let the journey continue.

7 Days

Well….Let’s do this thing. Welcome to the blog.

I think that this is now the third blog that I have started in the past five years or so. I want to be more dedicated to this one, as it will be my main way of communicating with my friends and family. I think that that is pretty good motivation to do this. It will be a chance for me to reflect on my experiences and share with you my joys and my struggles and everything inbetween.

There will most likely be some video blogging done here too. That will hopefully be a better way of sharing what I’m experiencing/feeling, plus I can maybe get some video of the places I will visit.

This time next Saturday, I will most likely already be in Jacmel at the Alabama Home. It still hasn’t hit me yet because of so many other distractions. Pray for those.

Below is going to be my close each post. It is the Prayer of Generosity by Ignatius of Loyola. I will be praying it each morning, and I ask that you say it for me as well.

Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.

Let the journey continue.

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