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Showing posts from 2016

Thanksgiving Miracle

I want to tell you a story.
We hear so many times about what goes wrong in Haiti. The attrocities of the developing world. Some of us live more closely to it than others.
We hear of children being sold to orphanages for $70 US.
We hear of babies, children, adults dying because of lack of medical care and lack of access.
We hear of hospitals shut down and on strike for 5 months at a time.
We hear of a mother killing her own new baby because her baby is starving and the mom is destitute, out of options, and has lost hope.
We hear of well meaning families from around the world adopting children who have a mom and a dad here in Haiti.
We hear of orphanage directors (local or expat) abusing children, even killing them, and working the system to benefit.
We hear of an economy that is struggling and yet many NGOs import all of their resources rather than supporting the local economy here.
We hear of mothers not breast feeding their children because of a lack of education.
We hear of women ab…

Pain // This World

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This world that we live in is ripping me up. I can't imagine how God feels because He sees it all and knows it all. I see just a pin point of the world's suffering and it's enough to spiral me into a depression.

I live in this world where children are sent to orphanges because their parents can't pay for an education. These desperate parents don't understand the vast consequences of their actions.

I live in this world where 'orphanage directors' often known as 'pastors' pay for children to live in their orphange, traffic children, and exploit children to attract white people to partner with their orphange in order to make money.

I live in a world where people are not able to get adequate healthcare and are turned away from hospitals in the midst of labor, severe trauma, when they are dying or simply 'not sick enough.'

I live in a world where two girls in the orphange close to me are severely malnourished, sad, depressed, and chronically sick…

A Hurricane, a Hammock, & a Wedding

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Last week was confusing, to say the least. I have a lot of confusing weeks in Haiti but this one was extra weird.  Sunday afternoon, October 2nd, we started gearing up for Hurricane Matthew, the Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the middle of the night on Monday night with anticipated devastation throughout Haiti. Haiti is the size of the state of Massachusetts. It was a small country on the western third of the Island of Hispaniola. There are roughly 10 million people who inhabit this island.  I think because Haiti is so small, the media portrayed the Hurricane as hitting the entire country, and in all fairness, the entire country was within the path of the hurricane. Also, not many outside of Haiti know the geography of the country or where I live (a distant suburb northeast of Port au Prince).
Photo Credit: http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3753352

I was overwhelmed by the concern of friends and family and acquaintances in the states as to my safety and those in m…

I needed you

What to do when you feel alone and need someone to fight for you? This past year has been quite a balance of fighting my way through but also falling into the arms of God and allowing him to fight the battles for me.
I wrote this blog to process many of the times I've felt alone and wanted someone or a group of people to come through in a situation.
I needed to have some time between moving here and hiring an entire clinic staff and starting a clinic. I needed some time....
I needed you to fire the employee when he stole thousands from us. I needed to be protected and valued...
I needed you to tell me I was doing a good job in the midst of the transition and the position I held that was more than 3 people could handle. I needed you to recognize the non-stop effort.
I needed you to be culturally sensitive to me. Here I was trying my darndest to be the most sensitive person I could possibly be to avoid offending anyone and getting called a 'hypocrite' and 'racist.' I need…

Cold Showers

A friend messaged me recently and kindly mentioned that she thinks of me when she’s taking hot showers. It was sweet and I’m glad that I’m thought of (sometimes it feels like you’re forgotten on the mission field from your former life, friends, etc). But it also got me thinking…. Thinking about the troubles on the mission field and the daily struggles that I face. It is not a lack of hot showers. I don’t think, ponder, or waste time with thoughts about my cold shower. I don’t mind the shower. I don’t mind the ‘physical discomforts’ if you can call them that. I don’t often (sometimes I do) think about the things I’m missing out on from my previous life (good food, starbucks, being able to pick up a smoothie at the corner).

The things that I do think about, talk about, that do keep me up at night:
·Relationships: just like the relationships that you have at home are complex and challenging, cross-cultural relationships can be challenging. Especially in Haiti, there is an expectation of…

Syel (Sky or Heaven in Kreyol)

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This week I’ve gotten to spend probably 1-2 hours in the late afternoon laying in the hammock or sitting on the porch.
I think this is the way life was back in the day, sitting on the porch and visiting with neighbors. What has happened to this? Let me tell you, it’s awesome.
My day does not feel complete if I do not watch the sunset.
Every day it’s beautiful, breath-taking, and completely different. Every day God paints a picture in the sky and beckons us to stop, to still ourselves, and appreciate the show He is putting on for us.
Same with the thunderstorms around here. They are magnificent displays of God’s power and majesty. I can just see him waving his hand and a huge lightning bolt darts across the sky followed by a thunderclap. One thing I noticed while watching a thunderstorm is the lightning is so bright that I have to close my eyes as a result. How magnificent. How wonderful and powerful. Awe.

In the states I remember appreciating a sunset but usually from my car driving …

Distraction

When I'm in America this is the word I often feel: distracted.
People ask me about the differences between Haiti and the US. It's hard to sum up in a few sentences. Because Haiti is so tragically impoverished and broken. And yet, they are not nearly as distracted as we are. I think America is impoverished (in spirit) and broken, just in different ways.
We're distracted by our phones, by our cars, by our Sonic & Starbucks, entertainment, shopping, schedule and to-do list and the chasing of all the things our society tells us we should seek and acquire.

In Haiti the distractions are taken away. The hustle and bustle is taken away. The internet is slow. I don't leave the compound on a daily basis. The electricity turns off and there's not much to do. I'm forced (and I've learned to embrace) sitting and resting and looking at the mountains over Port au Prince. (I actually get very disappointed now if I don't stop and watch the sunset each evening).

In A…

Duckenson

Everyone in a foreign country needs a Duckenson.
Duckenson has been my 'right hand man' since day 1.
I don't know if 'right-hand man' is the right phrase.
Duckenson is a friend, a deeply committed friend, and my Haitian brother.

Duckenson has been with me since the beginning. Since I didn't know a lick of Kreyol. When I knew painfully little about missions. When I didn't know how to help without hurting. When I didn't know how to communicate or cultural norms (that's still a struggle).
Duckenson drove me around Haiti for the first 6 months I was here. Duckenson has lived through me asking someone 'Do you have to poop?' instead of 'Do you have a bathroom?' -- yes that was just a few days ago... : /
Duckenson has been around for tears, anger, loneliness, pain, and oh the frustration.
I don't know what expats/humanitarians/missionaries do without the Duckenson's and Charly's of the world.
I have so much to be thankful for. I…

Opened Eyes

My eyes have been opened.
And there's no going back.
There's no more 'fitting in' to the world as I knew it...
my world as I knew it.
And it's scary and terrifying
and liberating.

There's no unseeing the poverty of the world
and moving back to the states doesn't make the suffering in the world disappear.

It's often too much to bear
good thing it's not my job to carry it

But I'm thrilled and priviledged to be part of the solution
to be doing something
to be contributing
to be leading and loving
to be... just be
to be doing the most purposeful work of my life
to be learning (oh so much learning)
to be living out the calling I've felt since childhood

The experiences in our life shape us
We have the opportunity to learn in any situation
and boy is this shaping me
and man am I soaking in all I can
growth can be hard and painful
but oh so beautiful

My eyes have been opened
God give me the strength to keep them open
give me the compassion to face e…

What are You Carrying?

I expect myself to learn a lesson once and move on.

...unfortunately this is rarely the way life works. It seems we continue coming back to our hurts, habits, and hang ups and learn and fail and make mistakes, and learn again.. the continual squiggly, circling, looping line that we would like to be a perfectly straight upward angle to "arrival."

This is what 'carrying a load' looks like for me:

I get grumpy. My language gets a bit foul. I get cynical. I have less patience than usual. I'm more irritable and a little emotional. I get frustrated when people 'need' me for things. I don't want to be asked for something. I shut down when a friend expresses her problem or concern to me because I just can't face one more problem/need/situation.

When I'm able to step back and take a look at how I got to this point, I realize I'm trying to do God's job. I'm carrying a load I was never asked to carry. I am carrying PAIN I was never asked to c…

Beauty for Ashes

You make beautiful things.
You make beautiful things out of the dust.

You make beautiful things.
You make beautiful things out of us.
(Gungor- Beautiful Things)

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair
(Crystal Lewis- Beauty for Ashes)

God creates beauty out of the impossible, doesn't he?

I'm so thankful to be in a season of joy, happiness, peace, and rest.

My first 6 months on the mission field (like many I've talked to) was full of work, disenchantment, burn out, anger, broken promises, misplaced expectations, and near depression. My heart broke for the country of Haiti, for the people I work with, and for myself as I tried to work my way out of an impossible situation and task. There were times when my heart was so angry and times when I asked God if He was sure He had called me to this task or if I had misheard him.
Instead tending to my own needs and heart-ache, I just kept working and trying to tend to the needs of others. A…

Home: a blog about being in the middle of two homes

I feel like I’m stuck between two worlds. My heart is in Haiti but my heart is home too- in the states, with my friends, and with my family. The question is—will I ever be able to go home the same? No. I’ll never be the same. I will always take this experience with me. The lessons I’ve learned, the things I’ve experienced. I won’t be able to return to the US and live a ‘normal’ life chasing the American dream. I will always be connected to Haiti in some way. My second home. My heart for this country. The beauty in the people, the beaches, the faith, the perseverant, steadfast nature of those around me.
I feel like I’m stuck between two worlds. Half of my heart is here in my current home. I am giving all I can here. I am trying to be courageous every day. I am leading and loving to the best of my ability—and it’s hard. Every day it’s hard. But I miss my family. I miss my friends. Home isn’t perfect… don’t get me wrong. Home is full of close, personal pain and sorrow. And if I was there,…

Stand Firm

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Ephesians 6 informs us to "stand firm" and when we've done all we can do (armor ourselves), then to stand firm.

That's where I'm at right now.

I feel like I've been hit in every which way. Spiritual warfare, bad dreams, discouragement, family troubles, oppression, organizational difficulties, secondary trauma of all we see and hear around here, the day to day turmoil in haiti- the main bridge we take to drive collapsing, locals being murdered, observing judgement and condemnation within the missionary community...it's almost too much to bear. It's heavy... on top of the day to day heaviness here.

I feel the weight of that heaviness.. for myself, for my friends, for this community, for this country. And yet, God doesn't call me to carry that by myself. He doesn't call me to carry that at all.

28“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart…

One of Those Days

In case there was the perception that life around here is hugging and singing with orphans that come and visit the clinic ; ) ... here's a comical (hopefully) recollection of a day in the life of me.
Scene: My alarm went off at 4:45am in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at a 2 star hotel called the "Red Carpet Inn" that cost me $137 for the night because it's cruise ship season and a conference was in town.  #winning I got out of bed and showered which would be my last hot shower for a while. I even blow dried my hair. #doublewinning.  I packed up my bag for the 3rd time with it's 44 pounds of glory full of chocolate, gifts for others and all things you can buy at Wal Mart and can't find in Haiti.  I headed downstairs for the 'hotel shuttle' that leaves promptly at 6am. My international flight was 7:15am so I was already cutting it close. But come on, the whole reason I booked the hotel was for the hotel shuttle!
When I came downstairs to check out of my roo…

I lift my eyes

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I've had the privilege of going to the beach a little more frequently lately. It is such a treat to get away, disconnect from work, eat different foods, and enjoy God's creation. The weather has been cooler in Haiti and the wind blows at the beach-- I've even gotten goose bumps at a few moments. WHAT?!
God has been really kind in this recent season of trying to recover from compassion fatigue (if you want to know about it, check out this amazing blog: http://www.saritahartz.com/what-missionaries-need-to-know-about-compassion-fatigue/).
Tonight I was standing at the rock barrier between the ocean and the beach. I was on the windy side of the beach and this song came to mind: You Make Me Brave by Bethel Music
As Your love, in wave after wave Crashes over me, crashes over me For You are for us You are not against us Champion of Heaven You made a way for all to enter in
I love to think of God's love crashing over me like a wave. It reminds me of the verse in Psalm 42:7:
Deep ca…

Self Love or Self Hate?

I don't know about you all but I am so sick and tired of... not being kind to myself.. of disliking myself.. and of being hard on myself.

I'm doing a devotional by Priscillar Shirer with some other missionary women. Shirer asks the question: list what you like best about yourself?

I wrote in the margin out beside the text, I have a hard time saying things I like about myself.

I think satan LOVES for us to not live in the fullness of who God created us to be. Satan loves to hold us back. He loves for me to tear myself up in the isolation of my own mind. The truth is- I'm a fish out of water. I've never been a 'missionary' before. Yes, yes, I know.. we all are called to live on mission every day. But I have never been on the international mission field before. I don't have any particular missions training other than coming from an equipping church.

Here's another truth-- I am learning how to run a medical clinic as I'm going. Yes I have a health degre…