The Hope In Haiti

Hi and Happy Friday!

I am excited to share with you that I am blogging over at Compassion International‘s blog today. Check it out here – The Hope in Haiti .

Have a great day!

Terri

 

Who am I???….Really???

DSCN0131Did you ever have something slap you in the face so hard it hurt for days?

I’m not talking about a physical slap, I’m talking about that slap of reality. A slap so hard that it knocks you down a notch or two, makes you think about your life and makes you wonder just who you really are.

I know you all keep hearing me talk about Haiti over and over again so forgive me but I am going to go to that subject one more time and I am not promising you that it will be the last time either 🙂

When I went to Haiti last March I felt like I was doing pretty good at the whole ‘new me’ thing that Jesus has been helping me with.  I knew I was very far from perfect and never will be perfect but I did feel like I was striving toward the correct direction for the first time in my life, but when I reached Haiti what I saw there knocked me down to my knees and made me rethink my whole perspective on who I really was.  The emotion I felt there was so much more than I ever expected or had ever felt in my life.  At times the emotion ran so raw I could feel every nerve ending in my body just want to scream out “stop!’  I felt so many things while there, things like frustration, sorrow and hopelessness but then as the week went on I felt things like hope and joy like I had never felt before.   I also saw God in Haiti like I had never seen or experienced Him before.   I won’t go into it all again today here on my blog but if you would ever like to read about that here are the links to the blog posts I wrote while there or soon after coming home.

The Eyes

Hope is Here

This Will Make You Smile

The Best Day Ever

Never the Same Again

Stepping Into The Boat

The Tail of Two Mothers

When I returned home from Haiti I began to question if I do enough, I mean really do I give enough?  Do I sacrifice my own personal comfort?  Am I bold enough to I give my whole self to what God has called me to do?  I am not speaking of just money I am speaking of things like speaking out, stepping up to do what he asks me to do.  Do I shrink back worrying what others may think of me?

Since I returned home Haiti has still been close to my heart and also feel that it changed my life forever.  Yesterday I saw a blog post by Ann Voskamp, I have to admit it was very thought provoking and convicting.   I saw a lot of my own feelings that I had I felt in Haiti when I read it.  I am a little embarrassed and sad to say that when I came back here to my cushy life in Missouri I gradually let some of what I  had saw there go out of my mind.  After reading Ann’s blog I realize the feelings are still there but some I had tucked away where they sat quietly back waiting for a slap of reality to hit me again.

I can still feel it…

It’s still there roaring through my veins,

Give Him my all.

Boldly go where he says to go…even if it may be scary.

Say what he wants me to say…don’t back down for fear of what people may think.

It only matters what God thinks.

Give my all till it hurts,  isn’t a sacrifice supposed to hurt?

What Jesus did for me hurt…

In order to show Jesus I have to live Jesus

Today I want to share the blog post I read yesterday,  I feel what the blogger says is true.  I hope not to make anyone upset with me but this is where the “boldly go where he tells me to go comes in” 🙂

A Letter to the North American Church:  Because it’s Time  By, Ann Voskamp

Thank you for reading and have blessed day 🙂

The Tale of Two Mothers

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Photo by Leslie Ponder

Missouri, USA

I wake up to the sound of my baby crying in the middle of the night, hurrying down the hall to his room I find him burning up with fever and coughing and I know he is sick with another cold.  I give him a dose of Tylenol and I rock him until the medicine starts to work and he falls back asleep.  I lay him in his crib  touching his little face relieved because his fever has dropped and he is cool now.  In the morning I will take him to the doctor.

A few hours later my alarm buzzes letting me know it is time to get up and start the day.  I check on the baby he is still sleeping, I touch his forehead and feel he is warm again.  I plan to call the doctor as soon as I get the other kids off to school.  I stop by their rooms to wake them up and then head to the kitchen to cook breakfast.  As I prepare breakfast I feel a bit overwhelmed with the tasks of the day.  I have a list a mile long of laundry, grocery shopping, my daughter has girl scouts and then dance class after school and the baby now needs a trip to the doctor.  My girls come into the kitchen, I put their breakfast in front of them, and we begin to talk and laugh as they eat their pancakes.  After breakfast is finished we all pile into the car and I drop them off at school, my day has begun.

Les Cayes, Haiti

I wake to the sound of my baby crying. I reach over and touch him he is burning up with fever and coughing, I know he is sick, though I am not sure how to help him. I do not have the money for a doctor or any medicine to give him. I rock him back to sleep listening to the coughs hoping he will be better soon.

A few hours later I wake to the sound of my baby crying, I reach over and touch his forehead, he is still burning with fever.  I sigh as the other children begin to wake up, I know they are going to be hungry and I have nothing to feed them again today. I wish I had more to give my children.  I do the best I can and am thankful for our home made of scraps of tin.   We have no electricity or running water, I worry my children will get sick from Cholera or Typhoid, and at night I cover them with mosquito nets to keep them from getting bitten by mosquitos which could bring them sicknesses such as Dengue fever and Malaria. I don’t really know how to help my children get out of this life we live.  Our day has just begun, I feel so tired and overwhelmed…

It’s Compassion Blogger assignment time again and since this Sunday is Mother’s Day the assignment today was to write from the perspective of a mother living in extreme poverty.  Because I do not live in poverty I really do not know how that would feel but that was my feeble attempt to compare my life when my children were still small and living at home to a mother living in poverty.

This past March I went on a Compassion Sponsor Tour to Haiti.  While there, we visited a mother at her home, the mother I described to you was the lady pictured at the top of this blog and that is her home she is standing in front of.   She had a family of 7 people who lived in that tiny home and she was HIV positive. Her eyes were tired and told a story of a hard life.  I will never forget her for long as I live.  Haiti is a poverty stricken country where 1 in 11 children usually die before the age of 5  and sadly most die from preventable causes.

Now I want to tell you about Compassion International’s Child Survival Program.

Compassion’s Child Survival Program works with mothers and expectant mothers to help them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  The program teaches them how to take care of their babies and how to make a safe home for them.  The Child Survival Program is based through the local church where they present the mothers with the gospel and also encourage their spiritual development by teaching them how to apply Christian values and how to share God’s love with their children.

While on our visit one of the places we visited was the HA-303 Child Survival program, while there I had the privilege to meet the mothers and children who attend and see first hand how the program is working.  The mothers and babies who were in the program were happy, healthy and thriving.

This is not the end of today’s story, I want to show you how you can help mothers in poverty change their story.  By clicking here you will be taken to Compassion’s Child Survival Program website there you can get more information and also make a one time donation to help save mothers and babies in need.  Thank you so much for reading my blog and also for making a difference in a life today.  Enjoy the video below of the mothers we visited at CSP HA-303 as they sing to us.

Stepping Into The Boat

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A stormy day, riding through the streets of a busy crowded city, racing to our boat, we are late.

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As we pull up to the dock,  dark clouds are looming hanging low over the ocean, large waves crashing at the shore.

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I see two boats tied to the dock bouncing on the waves.  I look for our boat, it’s not here… have we missed it?  We are told that the larger of the two is our ride.  Though our boat is the larger one it looks way to small to hold all of us and our luggage.

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I had imagined a big boat crossing a small body of calm water, instead I see this tiny, not very sea worthy looking ride, have they made a mistake?   This boat is not big or strong enough to carry us all to the island in this stormy water, and by the way… where is the island?  I gaze across the violent water and think I may see a shadow off in the distance.  It’s to far away! Not one person voices what is inside my brain, though I know we are all thinking the same thing. I hear someone say,  “I think this would be a good time for a prayer”.  Some of us wrap our arms around each other’s shoulders, we stand together in a circle and we begin to talk to God…

Dear Lord, We are here to do what you have called us to do.  We ask you to place your hand upon us, upon our boat and keep us safe as you guide us through these treacherous waters. 

Get into the boat is a must if we are to do the task he has laid before us.  We have came this far,  there is no way we can turn back now, children are waiting for us across those waves.  God is counting on us to go.  We have given it to Him and now is the moment we must trust, we swallow our fear and put on our faith as we step into the boat…

The crew pulls up anchor and our boat starts moving across the waves.  In front of us a dim shadow of an island is far off in the distance and the shore behind us disappearing into the foggy grey day.  As the boat begins riding the swelling waves they come crashing over the edge of the boat drenching us from head to toe.  We begin to laugh as our fear is forgotten.  Feeling as if I am on some sort of amusement park ride, I laugh so hard my stomach hurts, salt water in my mouth and eyes. Still laughing now trying to not open my mouth but not being able to control the laughter that is forcing it to stay open.  I see Marti spitting out the salt water managing to douse my leg, the look on her face when she realizes what she has done causes more laughter, our fearless leader Sean wipes his face with the sleeve of my dripping sweater and I catch a glimpse of Mark in his baby life vest, We are trying to duck under our already drenched jackets,  water is by now pouring down the front windshield pouring down our backsides… We just keep laughing because there is so much to laugh about and this is so much fun!

God has given me peace and has taken away my fear.  He is in control of our boat and we have nothing to worry about, all we have to do is experience the ride, experience the joy, experience the laughter.  We laugh like children, because we are His children. Today we laugh because today he has taken our grownup selves away allowing us to be children again, trusting that our father has everything under control.  Today as our Father is guiding our boat across a stormy sea to an island off the coast of Haiti.

I look ahead realizing we are closer now.  The grey sky begins to part before us, the sun seems to only be shining on top of the island.  Right here, right now, before my eyes is God’s magnificent art work of beautiful pink and white flowers flowing down the sides of the rocks. Palm trees sway in the breeze and it is all spotlighted by a sunbeam.   God is saying to us here I am! I brought you through the storm! Here is your gift! Take it all in and let the beauty I have put before you fill you up!  I remember the scripture from Psalm that says –  Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  I know this is that moment, my moment of delight.

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After drying off we set sail to the other side of the island to meet the children who are waiting for us riding a dingy to the shore, another boat ride…

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we exit the boat and walk up a winding path through the trees,

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we see goats, chickens and more spectacular views from atop of the hill.

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As we walk we know we must be getting close because I our ears are treated to the sound of beautiful voices of children. We hear them singing songs of welcome, leading us to their little church on the hill, hidden in the trees at the end of this path.

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We enter the church seeing a sea of smiling faces greeting us,  as they sing with the most beautiful voices I have ever heard.  I feel so unworthy and humbled by this gift of song.  God is so good, He is just way too good, my heart is so full I’m not sure it can hold any more. I fear it  may burst.

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The children have a show of music and dancing planned for us. They give to us everything they have to give in their performance.  If only I could love half this much.  They do not have any material things, but yet they have so much to give in their gift of God’s love that they are giving to us today.  Do I know how to love like they do?  They share their love without holding anything back.

After the show we go outside to play.  Though they live in this very primitive place they still behave the same as children do everywhere.  They play jump rope, tag and ring around the rosy but they do it in a play yard of dirt.  No swing sets or safety rubber just dirt and trees a few balls and large imaginations.

They love making silly faces and to have their pictures taken.  They line up to pose for my camera excited to see the pictures of themselves

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I peak into a beat up classroom to find a couple of teenage girls just hanging out like teenagers do.

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I watch my husband playing soccer.  His team barely touches the ball yet joy and laughter fill his face.  His eyes seem to have a new light in them today.

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Looking across the yard and see a few children in the corner of the yard with Lori.  These are children in need of sponsors and she is trying to decide which one she will sponsor. I take their picture….

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A little girl in a lime green dress reaches up and takes hold of my hand. Shyly she looks up at me and smiles.  She never speaks a word with her mouth yet says everything with her eyes. I know that I have made a new friend. Her name is Rose.  Rose never lets go of my hand the rest of the afternoon. She is quiet and seems very shy, can she talk?  Rose pulls on my hand, leading me through the mud to a woman in front of a worn looking shack, a tired looking woman with kind eyes and a baby.   Suddenly I realize this is Rose’s mother, Rose has brought me to meet her mother.  She stands looking at her mother as if I am a lost puppy she has brought home, waiting for her approval to keep me.  Though she never  says a word somehow little Rose has climbed her way right into my heart and I know she has been waiting for me to get into that boat to come here to be her friend and her new sponsor.   I know God has guided me to be right here today.  This is  exactly the place he wants me to be today in the moment in time,  right here  on an island named Ile a Vache, right here in Haiti.

Today I am so thankful I came to Haiti, I am so thankful I got in the boat, many blessings were received,  I would have missed them had I not gotten in.DSCN0212

Journal entry March 6, 2013 – Ile a Vache – Port Morgan, Haiti.  Compassion Sponsor Tour

Never the Same Again

DSCN0218Home… today I woke up at home though in my dream that I had just awakened from, I was still in Haiti.  As I began to wake up the questions began popping into my head  again.  Why is my home here?  Why did God put me in this place in the world and not somewhere else?  As I rolled over in my bed feeling the softness of my Downy scented Egyptian cotton sheets I remembered back to the place I woke up this time last week….Last week I woke up in a dingy hotel room in Haiti with sheets that seemed somehow cold and dirty to me, a far cry from the room I woke up in today.DSCN0294

Is this really fair that this week I wake up here while they all still wake up there?   How many times have I seen my bedroom but not really looked at it?   I wake up every morning just expecting to see this room when I open my eyes the thought never crossing my mind that I could be waking up somewhere else.  Do they wake up expecting the room they wake up in never expecting anything else?  Are they sad?  Or are they thankful for what they have?

Last week I spent the week in Haiti.   No matter what I have done this week I can’t seem to shake Haiti out of my head.  As I go about my life here my mind is still there.

My mind is on a bus ride through crowded streets, garbage, dirt, sewage, broken homes and broken people standing elbow to elbow all trying to make a living and a life.   Did you know that 7 MILLION people live in the city of Port Au Prince??DSCN0274

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I saw young girls standing on the streets selling themselves innocence lost…DSCN0132

I saw children playing  happily surrounded by this mess in this place of brokenness…  I remember passing a house with children dancing on a porch seemingly unaware, blind to the rubble that I saw surrounding them.

While on our visit to Haiti we went to a Compassion center.  At a center we were watching a program the children put on for us when I heard something drop on the floor under my feet.  I realized that the baby behind me had dropped his toy.   I reached down to pick it up and realized what I picked up was not a toy at all, it was a Christmas ornament.  A beautiful golden glittery ball made for hanging on a Christmas tree…not something I would give a baby to play with yet this was his toy and though by my standards unsafe by their standards it was perfect and the baby was happy.

I remember visiting the home of a woman who had HIV, 7 people lived in her home, a 12 x 10 building constructed out of pieces of tin with a piece of faded blue cloth hanging in the doorway actually the cloth WAS the door.  The woman welcomed us in with warmth,  inviting us to sit down, so very happy to have visitors, she was very proud and thankful for all she had.. which to my eyes did not look like much. 20130305_162520

Our last two nights in Haiti we stayed in Port au Prince, I remember pulling up to the hotel and thinking it looked really nice.  Upon entering my room I thought it was not so nice by my selfish standards.  The lamp did not work and the other light that did work was dim and barely lit up the room.  The room felt dirty and cold and when I pulled back the covers  of my bed to sleep I discovered that the bed actually did have dirt in it.   A week ago I would have marched up to the front desk and demanded a new room but not tonight…I just couldn’t after all I had seen this week.

Even though I did not go ask for a new room I still kept thinking “I can not sleep in that bed it’s dirty”  I also did not want to stay in that room though I knew I had to.   I had to for the people of Haiti and also for me.

Though I did not want to do it I brushed the dirt out of the bed and lay down on top of the sheets.  Shortly after laying down I heard the whisper… Yes you know the one, the whisper that says “excuse me Terri, I think it’s time for an huge attitude adjustment”.

I was here and they were out there,  The people of Haiti the people who live here every day.  They are not here just for a visit, they are here every single day of their lives.  No escape, this is home to them. and by the standards I had seen all day this was a place of luxury I was spending the night in tonight.

They were living outside the walls surrounding our hotel.  Tall concrete walls separating us from them.  They were out there in the noise of the city, the sirens, the crowds of people, outside in that that noisy city while I was in here, where it was … nice?? Yes nice, very nice.  The voice more than a whisper now said “Wake up Terri its time to see!”  Sometimes I wonder why my eyes can see something yet my brain blocks it out.  There is a part of me that is still selfish, a part that for no good reason at all thinks I deserve better things, it’s that part of me that I sometimes feel so ashamed of.

Sometimes I wonder if I am I blind by choice because if I do see then I will be held more responsible.  It’s easy to care from my own comfortable home, but the real truth comes out when I have to live outside my own little comfortable box.

I lay down that night a puddle of mush crying and praying.   Crying and praying not only for the people outside those walls but also for the person inside those walls too.

Crying and praying for me the person who needed a huge attitude adjustment.

Praying for forgiveness for thinking I was too good to sleep in that room yet at the same time also thanking God that I was not out there in the streets of Port Au Prince where the world seemed so scary.

I went to Haiti with an idea in my head about what I thought Extreme Poverty would be like and now I know I really did not even have a clue as to what I was going to experience.  Now realize a week later that I came home leaving pieces of my heart in Haiti and I also brought some of Haiti back home with me.

I can never begin to explain what I feel inside.  I feel like I now have a responsibility to the people of Haiti.  I also feel very blessed by the week I spent there.

I am not sure if I will ever be the same again which is good because I know I don’t want to ever be the same again.  DSCN0263

In the middle of Port Au Prince there is a statue of the world held up by three hands…our guide told us that the hands represented, the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit, He’s got the whole world in his hands… Including Haiti.DSCN0091I ask you today to please pray for the people of Haiti.

DSCN0131The trip I went on was with Compassion International, I had the chance to see first hand how they are helping to change lives in Haiti.  Compassion International is Christ centered, focused on children, committed to the church and to integrity.  If you would like to help by sponsoring a child in Haiti here is a link, Compassion.com   Many children are waiting and YOU can make a difference. 

Thank you for reading my blog and for your prayers for the people of Haiti.

The Best Day Ever

555045_3927665169877_1602471217_nThis is the day I have waited for all week.  The day I will finally meet my sponsored child Thierry Ridji Macon.

I wait with anticipation, the excitement bubbling up inside me so big I can barely keep it in or stand still. So I pace back and forth hearing he sounds around me feeling as if I’m in some sort of  slow motion moving world… waiting and waiting…

Each sponsor is being called by name.  I watch as they each go up to meet their child.  I stand here for what seems like forever waiting  to hear my name called.    I search each child’s face hoping one of the faces I see is his.

I am so nervous…I wonder is he nervous?

What will I say?  Should I hug him or should I hang back so as not to overwhelm him?

I hear my name being called, the time is finally here! I look up and there he is! My Thierry!  His smile is just the same as in his picture, it is huge and warm and his big beautiful brown eyes are looking at me with love.

I am so excited I hug him, I hug the teacher and I hug the interpreter, I just want to hug everyone!  I am so happy I can’t contain it,  so its hugs all around again and again!

“I am so happy to finally meet you!” I say to him and he replies “I am happy to meet you” (in English by the way).  I ask “how are you today?” he replies I am good how are you?”  “Do you speak English?” I say.  “Yes” he replies.

We continue with a bit of small chit chat and then the interpreter takes over  once Thierry has reached the end of his English.  I can not believe he has learned English for me.  I was so surprised that he had learned enough of my language to speak to me personally for the beginning of our conversation and that brought tears to my eyes at how thoughtful a child he is!

We spent about an hour getting to know each other during which time he gave me a gift.  He gave me a single rose and a pair of sandals. 226572_609408269073405_1207463443_n I know giving me a pair of sandals was really too much for his family to afford yet he brought them anyway and from the look on his face I knew he was excited to give them to me.   When I first saw the sandals they looked really small and I have some pretty big feet.  Though I knew those sandals would be to small I also knew that no matter what those sandals had to fit my feet right now in this moment.  Right beside me was the boy who gave me those sandals and he was waiting with the look of excited anticipation of seeing his gift to me on my feet and there was no way would I ever let him down by seeing that those sandals did not fit.  I said a small prayer in my head and then I began to put on the sandals thinking I would have to squish my feet into them. I took the first sandal and slipped it on my foot…Imagine my surprise when amazingly it fit!  The look on his face when I had both those sandals on my feet was worth everything to me…I could see the joy in his eyes  as he was seeing me wear his gift, pure joy, there is nothing like it in the world.

602819_3927654089600_2114579127_nLater in the day we played soccer on the beach.  He was very good with the soccer ball and told me that he was on a soccer team at school and that his team had won a trophy.  He showed me how to kick the ball around a bit and also how to pick up the soccer ball with my foot.  I just loved kicking the ball back and forth with him.   We did so much today, we swam in the ocean and tried to catch the waves as the rocky bottom of the ocean was stinging my feet but today I did not care and I felt no pain.  After our swim we had lunch together and then we listened to his music.  American music by the way, He likes Justin Tymberlake and Chris Brown.  I loved so much getting a glimpse into his life and knowing what sort of boy he was.

He had the most beautiful kind eyes and the sweetest smile.

He told me he loved me…”Mwen renmen ou” oh the sweetest words… I will never forget how they sounded from him… mwa la ma oo

Today was awesome, no longer was he a picture, he was alive and standing right in front of me.

Sadly it had to come to an end and they came to take him home.  It was way to soon I did not want him to leave.  The boy I had loved all along was even more to me now. I had no idea I could love him more but I do and I did not want to let him go.  It was so hard to let him go, to say goodbye knowing it will be a long time before I will see him again.  Now I know him all to much, I have felt his hugs and I have seen his smile in person.  I do not want to let him go back into the chaos of the city of Port Au Prince while I go back to my quiet life in America. His world seems so unsafe to me.  It was so hard to give him back to God but I had to, his life is here, he does not belong to me, I only got to enjoy him for a short time.  I have to trust that God has him and will take care of him.

I was given a huge gift today, It was such a blessing way more than I feel I deserve.

Something I discovered today was that though this boy and his family had barely any money for material things they still wanted to give me something.  Though it looked on the outside like they gave me a pair of sandals, what I was given was way more than a pair of sandals.  I can never begin to have the words to explain what was given me today but what I do know was that it was love and it was hope,  it was a selfless giving that I never have ever really ever gave of my own self.  They gave me something when it looked as if there was nothing to give but yet they had so very much to give.

As I go back to my life a part of me has been left behind, behind with a boy, behind in the country of Haiti, living a life so different than mine, so far away, yet always he will be so very close.

Thank you God for this special gift you gave me today.  Please watch over Thierry and always let him know he is loved.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7   Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.374456_609407212406844_464276890_n

This Will Make You Smile

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Are you smiling?  I knew you would be 🙂