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Showing posts from 2017

Time

An unwelcome character has been knocking on my door since June 
Frap, frap, frap!!
Hello? I respond, wearily.  Hello Rachel. It's time, he whispers.
I slam the door in his face and tell him he's crazy and I'm not ready.
Over months, he keeps knocking. And each time I answer, we speak a little bit longer.
Gradually, I find the courage within myself to face the dreaded words - re entry, transition, leaving.
How could I leave this beloved country?
When will I be back?
Why now? I'm just getting good at this thing.
And yet the Father of Time continues to knock gently and speak tenderly. 
Finally I ask:
Father Time- will I make it?  Will this whole transition be okay?
What about all the people I love and care for?
You'll be okay. Better. stronger. But not until you rest, heal, re-integrate. 
I have good plans for you. I am preparing you for something great.
I love all of my children. I love all humankind. I will care for your friends. I will watch over them and protect them. 
Ok F…

Justice

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I want to be a minister of light, of Justice.

I desire justice.
I crave justice.
I want to see God's justice every day in Haiti.

There's a common question I get asked: What's been the hardest thing about living in Haiti?

I've answered that question in so many different ways. It's always hard to summarize an experience that is wrought with paradox - joy and pain, tears and laughter, beauty and tragedy- often in the same day or even in the same experience.

But the answer I gave once that I think was the most honest and nearly brought me to tears (probably why I don't give that answer very often) is "seeing injustice up close and personal every single day."

At times it feels like injustice reigns in Haiti. I hate injustice. I hate injustice against me and I think I hate it even more for Haitians.

Injustice happens in so many different forms:

- the woman who has no access to maternal healthcare and delivers her premature baby at the only government matern…

The Road: Looking back on 2 years

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I got to the end of a road and looked back
I looked back on the journey
the new, fresh, naive person I was two years prior
I thought about the missionaries I idolized then
Their calm confidence
ease of speaking Creole
their ideas, faith, their lives in action

I realized I, while far from 'perfect' or 'arrived,'
(both myths)
had come towards the end of my road
and am so much more of the person I wanted to be
the person I'm meant to be

The girl that is able to laugh at the insanely frustrating aspects of life in Haiti
The girl that is more spontaneous and flexible, the only way to live here, sanely
The girl that can go for a jog in the neighborhood without fear,
can hold a brief conversation with women walking down the street with their goods for sale
The girl that can laugh in a very appropriate Haitian-culture sort of way

The woman that looks back on the road fraught with abuse, pain, and trauma
and see the depths of courage and strength that she has found inside h…

Wanted: Brave People

I've decided one of the most needed attributes in cross-cultural work or 'on the mission field' is bravery, courage.
To step up, to show up, each and every day. Whether that's showing up to lead a medical clinic, to deliver a baby, to go get groceries, to leave your home takes courage.
Because living in a foreign country as a foreigner, there are many assumptions that are made based on the color of my skin.
In Haiti, there are a few things assumed of me:

1. I'm rich
2. I am educated
3. I haven't worked very hard for anything in my life
(These are generalizations for a reason and do not apply to each individual Haitian's thinking)
4. I want to help and am able to help...or give a handout
(DISCLAIMER: some of the above is true. I am rich in the world's standards. I am educated. I do want to help. I have worked for things in my life but I have been afforded incredible opportunities based on where I was born, into what socioeconomic class, and the color of …

God's Economy

I've been learning about God's economy lately. It's really so different than mine and I think it's really different from America's economy in many ways.

It's easier for me to accept gifts and donations when I feel like I am working very hard and showing progress and outcomes in the clinic in Haiti.

It is much more difficult for me to accept gifts, donations, blessings, a free dental appointment, free dinners, love, acceptance, and affection when I am a compassion-fatigued, less-than-normal functioning version of Rachel.

But I'm pretty sure (~ 100%) that's not how God works.

He loved us far before we loved Him. He sent His son to die on the cross far before I submitted my life to Him. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us and this is how God demonstrates His love for us (Romans 5:8 paraphrased).

My friends still love me whether I'm a weepy grieving missionary or not. My friends love me if I'm staying on the mission field or not. My God lo…

The Journey

My mom has always told me to enjoy the journey.

That's been the theme of her advice to me throughout my short 29 (almost) years of life.

Gosh I love that woman.

But it's not just about rainbows and roses and my mom would certainly not tell me to smile or fake it when life is beating me down. But I think there is a way to enjoy the journey... to learn from the journey, even when it's really, really hard.

I look through the pictures on my Facebook and am filled with gratitude. I have a beautiful life, incredible friends, adventures, opportunities, success, family. It's wonderful.
But in between those pictures are seasons of pain... part of the journey.

It's been a painful few months in Haiti and it's part of the journey. You get betrayed and betrayed again. But there are really beautiful parts too. All part of the journey. I want to enjoy the journey like my mom taught me.

I want to embrace the journey.
I want to accept the journey even at the lowest and most pai…

Dear North American Director

.... this is what every missionary on the field wants to tell you (or maybe it's just me).

We. are. working. our. butts. off.

Please recognize this. Please don't pretend you understand, because you don't. Until you live here for more than a week, 2 weeks, or a month at a time, don't pretend like you know what it's like here.

When starting a conversation, start with encouragement! We likely don't live in encouraging cultures, cultures that understand our culture and give us a pat on the back. In fact, it can be pretty thankless work. We may never know if we're doing enough or how we should handle the new situation that's cropping up every day. It's hard to find the support needed because people back home don't get it and it's often just exhausting to try to explain it (this is not always the case, and good listeners are miracles in our lives).
Start off by praising something.... anything!

Please try to remember that likely in the culture we l…

The worst epidemic in Haiti

“There’s an epidemic in a small port town in Haiti called White Savior-itis and it’s killing all the families in a 3 mile radius.” - a friend working in said community
I had the opportunity to talk at the Global Health and Innovation conference at Yale last month about the greatest health crisis in Haiti- hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. High blood pressure is killing more people in Haiti than HIV, Tuberculosis, Malaria, and Cholera combined. (High blood pressure won't actually kill you but stroke, heart disease, renal failure, and peripartum cardiomyopathy will).

Today I want to talk to you about what the real and often unknown epidemic is. it's killing the family, it's raising up less capable and whole children, and I hope in 10 or 20 years (or tomorrow would be better) Haitians will say "Why did we do this?!"

This topic is in my face every day but if you live in America where we don't have orphanages, it might not be in yours, so please all…

What if $600 could save a life?

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When $600 can save a child's life.
What to do with that information?
How do we reconcile that with the wealth of our Western world.

A few weeks ago we met Nordina, a 9 year old, precious, beautiful girl with one very swollen and painful leg. She was not able to walk and her face was so pale you just knew something was wrong.
With a father who cared about her enough to bring her into our clinic in Onaville, she quietly fought for survival, knowing her family was without a penny of income.  Nordina's father followed instruction to take her to St. Damien's pediatric hospital (the more affordable of the pediatric hospitals in Port au Prince) and St. Damien's told him that surgery would be necessary. He took her back home and cared for her the best he could, knowing he could afford surgery for his beautiful girl.

Our Haitian medical director took a special trip to Nordina's house in Onaville 22 to check on her and speak with her father. Her father reported God told him …

A Letter to My Heart

Dear Heart,

I'm not very good to you sometimes. I'm not very kind and gentle. I expect you to see the worst of the world, the injustice, the suffering, the pain, in the States and in my current home, and I just expect you to keep on plugging, keep on pushing. I haven't given you very much time to process the deep pain and suffering you've seen and felt. And for that, I'm very, very sorry.
It's in the quiet days of listening to worship music, a sermon, cooking, cleaning, that I get to digest the things my soul has seen, has bore witness to. And I'm sorry. I'm sorry I've let other peoples thoughts and actions invalidate you. I'm sorry I haven't trusted you a lot of the time. I'm sorry I've let you trust people that have proven to not be trustworthy. That happens in this life, even when you're being careful, but I'm sorry I haven't given you the time and safe space to grieve and feel that.

I'm sorry to my heart.

I'm …

Deborah

It was an innocent Wednesday morning at clinic and I was in the office getting some administrative work done. At breakfast with our Medical Director, I heard wind of an emergency in the clinic. Dr. Mainviel was taking care of it. (I'd just sit in my office, our staff can take care of it, better for me to not get involved). Before too long, he was up in my office asking me if there are any ambulance services I have connections with.
Fast Forward to today, Sunday, and here's where I'm at.

I live in a world where babies are born falling onto their heads, where mothers don't have help or support in a maternity hospital (underfunded/undersupported, in a slum, overcrowded), where families abandon a family member when her baby dies (of no fault of her own).

Where is God in this?

Does it help or hurt for a 'foreigner' to get involved? The westerner has a concept of western medicine, of who and what can be saved and protected. My first job out of grad school was in a ge…

Emotions

There are moments when I talk about Haiti when I light up - inside and out. People can see how passionate I am, how much I love this country, how much I love the community of Onaville, how thrilled I am to be partnering with what God is doing through the Onaville Community Health Center and beyond. My eyes have been opened to how the rest of the world lives and I'll never unsee it and I'll never be the same. How special that God is allowing me to do something He has specifically called me to for this season..something He has hand-picked for me to do.

And there are moments, though they are few, when I talk about Haiti to someone who understands Haiti and I express the deep pain I have experienced and the need for healing and rest I am so desperate for. I choke up and cry and can't even begin to express the way my heart feels. The suffering and loss I've seen, the pain I've seen, the injustice I've seen. The loss I've felt, the confusion I feel when I try to …