A Beautiful Afternoon.

It was a last minute decision, to join Amanda, her mom, & Matt on an afternoon to go visit the house of Atthis (a village champion in Bercy). I hopped in the back of the vehicle & headed to Bercy with my friends. When we got to their house, we were greeted by Atthis, his beautiful wife Pierrette, & his 3 radiant children – Athlande, Pednika, & Mathensly.

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We were welcomed into their home, & out of the corner of my eye I saw trays of food that were the foundation for what looked like a delicious meal. After saying hi, Pierette (Atthis’ wife) slipped out the backdoor. We spent time playing with the kids, hearing Atthis’ testimony & how grateful he is for the life God has given him & how much he loved his wife & kids. Through sharing his testimony, Atthis shared with us that Pierette has a degree of mental disability. The way he loves her, builds her up, is patient with her, speaks highly of her, & cares for her made me respect Atthis even more than I already did. Pierette has such a joy about her, & Atthis loves her so well. When Atthis was sharing about his beautiful wife, his son Mathensly was beaming & saying, “He loves my mom, he loves my mom!” It was so sweet to see that Atthis & his wife are setting the example to their children of what loving a spouse looks like. That’s the kind of example to set for your children – love that can’t help but overflow out of your love for God to those around you. It’s contagious. It’s radiant. It’s beautiful.

While Pierette was cooking, we shared stories & lots of laughter. It’s impossible to be in the presence of Mathensly without some laughter, dancing, & silly faces.

collage smallerIMG_9557 copy DSC_1430 copy  Above: Mathensly rockin’ those Raybans.
Below: Teachin’ him young.DSC_1292 copyIMG_9592 copyAbove: Clare (Amanda’s mom!) & Amanda.
I speak for me & my roommates when I say that we loved having you stay with us! :)IMG_9564 copy IMG_9563 copy IMG_9598 copy DSC_1396 copyAbove: A brief moment with a little neighbor girl who was so soft spoken, but eventually cracked a smile :)
Below: Those kids LOVE Amanda!IMG_9629 copyBelow: Amanda & Mathensly…just melting your heart like it’s their job.IMG_9642 copy

Pierette spent over an hour outside in the kitchen cooking chicken & plantains for each one of us. When she finished cooking, she was so joyful to serve us our food, & let me tell you – it was some of the best plantains I’ve ever had.

We all felt so welcomed into their home, hearts, & family.

It’s encouraging to know that my “last minute decision” to join Amanda, Clare, & Matt was exactly what my heart needed.
God is sovereign, & knew long before that I would be sitting in the middle of that village on that Thursday afternoon, & He would stir my affections toward Him. It is so deeply comforting to know that God knows our needs more than we do, & He is providing all we need for today.

Philippians 4:19 // And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Amanda wrote about this afternoon from her perspective, & it is beautiful. Read it? Also, she took so many of these photos! Thanks for being a dear friend who takes awesome pictures, Amanda!

Week 10A!

March 8-15th, 2014 was such great week. We refer to it here at Mission of Hope as “Week 10A” :)

It was the start of March Madness, a record breaking weekend for us, & my home church & some family was here!

You may have read my previous post about my mom being here & Dreams Colliding.

There is so much to share, & I just couldn’t fit it all into one post. So, here is part 2.

It was SUCH a joy to have a group from my home church here. As if my heart wasn’t full enough, my brother & sister-in-law were a part of this trip too! Best.

It was really neat to see people use the skill-sets they have in order to serve the people of Haiti. Shout out to Joey who used his talent of fixing vehicles & Wes who used his talent of welding. Thanks for fixing things around the mission!

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Jessie, Ryan, me, Mom, & Wes

IMG_9405 copyGrace Fellowship 2014 Haiti Trip!
What a great group of people.
IMG_9407 copy IMG_9386 copy favorite  Ryan, me, & Jessie (above)
I sure do love these siblings of mine!

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A dear friend, Jeannine (above) & her awesome kids Bryce & Beka (below).
Jeannine & I came to Haiti together in 2011, & I loved getting to see her experience this trip with 2 of her children. This family is gold.

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The next 4 photos are from various team members from the trip!
So, photo cred to them :)

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A huge thanks to my mom & the other awesome people that brought so many goodies for me & my roommates. This is SUCH a treat! :)

There are so many moments from this week that are forever etched into my heart & mind.

Also, here is a great video of the week put together by Kerry!

Dreams Colliding.

How do I even begin to describe last week?

Dreams colliding.

In 1988, my mom was a young, married girl preparing to go on her first mission trip. “Where to?” you ask.
Haiti.
In 1988, she was ready to go. She wanted to go.
However, shortly before the sign ups she found out she was pregnant with my older brother, Ryan. Her & my dad decided it would be better for her to wait to go to Haiti.

She waited. And waited. In the midst of the waiting, she poured herself out for others, she sacrificed, & she stewarded the opportunities placed in front of her well.
She always prayerfully supported my brother & I going on mission trips. We went to inner-city Chicago several times, & then in the spring of 2011, Ryan & I came with our home church for the 1st time to Mission of Hope.IMG_6199

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I think it goes without saying, but I loved it ;)

I applied for the internship at Mission of Hope in 2012, & after I was accepted into the program, my mom shared with me the story about her signing up to come to Haiti in 1988 & then not being able to go.

She did not share that story with a single ounce of bitterness. She shared that story because it was such a unique similarity between the two of us. A desire that the Lord had woven into both of our hearts. If you know me & my mom – we are similar & yet very different at the exact same time. I think we would both agree that our differences are probably greater than our similarities.
But this? This was a similarity woven so deep that she couldn’t not share.

See, I had never known that my mom had planned on coming to Haiti before she & my dad had Ryan & I.

I had never known that my mom was watching me live out a desire of hers.

I’ve been back to Haiti multiple times since March of 2011, & now live here (since September of ’13). My mom has heard story after story of the friendships I have been blessed by here in Haiti. She has heard about things the Lord has taught me. She has heard about the housing project, she has heard about the church, she has heard all about Mission of Hope. She has heard about all of it for 3+ years. She has looked at photos, read blogs & stories about things I’ve experienced here, studied my friend’s names, asked questions…For 3 years she patiently listened, supported, & prayed for me.

And then,

Last week, my mom came to Haiti.

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She met the friends that she has seen photos of & heard stories of. They met my precious mom that they had seen photos of & heard about.

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My beautiful mom stepped foot on the soil that she has been desiring to visit for 25+ years. She planted trees, she painted homes, she held babies, she prayed with single mothers.

If you hear one thing, hear this: Those 25+ years of “waiting” were not wasted at all. The Lord would be just as good & just as sovereign if my mom was never able to come to Haiti. But He allowed her to get to be here, & to see the people she has prayed for & the fruit of her prayers. I deeply respect my mom because in the middle of the “wait” – she lived. She sacrificed. She loved. She prayed. She trusted. She poured herself out.

I am a misty-eyed mess as I write this post.

I love you, mom.

The Lord is faithful, friends.

March Madness 2014

It’s here. The busiest weekend in Mission of Hope’s history is HERE! More people arriving in this one weekend than ever before (including my family & church family Grace Fellowship!)

This is March Madness at it’s finest.

And let me tell you. It’s been humorous/humbling to see how the Lord lovingly reminds me His sovereignty, faithfulness, & my complete dependence on nothing but Him.

  • This “craziest weekend of the year” falls on time-change weekend. An hour of sleep literally disappears from the clock. GONE. I always think Spring Forward is a cruel joke made by people who function with 3 hours of sleep – which is NOT me.
  • My home church is bringing a team down! My mom, step-dad, brother, & sister-in-law are a part of that trip, which is SO exciting. I am eager for them to experience what the Lord is doing here. However, this is an entirely different dynamic of exhausting – because it will literally be 24/7 with wanting to spend as much time as possible with my family & church family. It also is exciting because they are bringing lots of treats from back home (& hair color!). ha. which leads me to my next point…
  • I ran out of Starbucks Vias this week. Yep. You read that correctly. I. RAN. OUT. OF. INSTANT. COFFEE. 2. DAYS. BEFORE. THE. BUSIEST. WEEKEND. OF. THE YEAR. (I can’t make this stuff up.)
  • Both of our campuses are open for March, which means that all of our staff is split between the 2 campuses. Which means 2 sets of everything – Orientations, Schedules, Debriefs, Tours, etc.
  • Carnival (best described as Haitian Mardi Gras). This was March 3, 4, & 5. The entire country basically shut down for this massive holiday. How does this affect us? Banks, offices, stores (read: everything) was closed 3 days this week while we were finalizing details for this weekend. Thankfully, I work with brilliant people (EBill & Drew) who thought of this ahead of time, and all is well.

These are a few examples that the Lord has used to remind me that HE IS SUFFICIENT. Eternally, nothing else matters but Him. He goes before us. He ordained this weekend before the foundation of the world was laid. The breath that I am breathing is grace – I am walking in His grace. Teams are going into villages in order that more people would come to know Jesus. I’m unbelievably grateful for the team I get to work with. We are praying that every man, woman, & child we come in contact with (North American & Haitian) will hear, feel, & see the Gospel of Jesus & experience life transformation.

It’s a JOY to serve here. The Lord continually reminds me that we are all ordinary people that He graciously uses to accomplish an ETERNAL & extraordinary vision. He allows us to be a part. He delights in bringing joy to His children. He is joy, friends. He is hope. He is changing the world through His church.

Would you pray?
Pray that we intentionally invest in the men & women that step foot onto our campus. Pray that we (staff) are aware of the needs around us – both in the North American team members & the Haitians that we serve alongside & in their villages. Pray that hours on the clock expand – that God would accomplish a crazy amount of things in a crazy amount of time. Pray that the only thing people can walk away saying is, “God did it.” God gets all of the glory for the redemption of His people. He gets the glory for the changing of a nation. He gets the glory in the softening of the human heart. Pray for holy energy & endurance – that we would carve out time to be with the Lord before we meet with men & women. Pray that the posture & the focus of our heart would be on Jesus, above all. Pray that as team members leave Haiti, they would not view this as a “week long” experience…but that it would be a catalyst of change in their lives & that they would take the intentionality of living life Gospel centered back home with them if this is new to them. For people who may be doing this already back home, pray that they would be encouraged. That they would be refreshed, renewed, & rejuvenated here. That they would see the beauty of Christ’s church around the world & be encouraged.

LET’S DO THIS!

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11

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Grinnin’ & Gigglin’

I don’t always take my “good camera” out into villages with me…but when I do, fun times are had by all. I sure do love these little friends & time spent with them.

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Debuston (above)

JeColleen (below)

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Jenlyee (above)

Ericson (below)

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Debuston’s “fish face” looks more like he is blowing a kiss. Precious boy!

Hopefully these smiles brightened your day like they do mine!

Thankful.

Valentine’s Day.

I’m not going to lie, the past 2 holidays (Thanksgiving & Valentine’s Day) I’ve experienced here in Haiti have been awesome. You can read about my Thanksgiving experience here.

Valentine’s Day:
Call me crazy, but I think it is assumed that Valentine’s Day isn’t usually single people’s favorite “holiday” – it is usually a reminder of just.how.single.we.are. Now, I’m not a cynical person who hates the color pink & love – actually quite opposite. I even painted my nails with pink, glitter & a heart. IMG_8931I made valentine’s for the precious women on staff here. I even told people I loved them. I should get a gold star for my level of participation in this holiday.

I love love. But, as a single lady (cue Beyonce), it is a day that I spend some time wondering & hoping – what the future will look like when I get to make my future husband heart-shaped pancakes, go out to dinner & enjoy a night out with him.

But this Valentine’s Day?
The day started like any other day here in Haiti – I woke up pretty early, got some work done & sent teams off to their day in the villages. I came back up to my house to find the internet being fickle, making my usual work day a bit difficult. I got a text message from a friend on staff here at MOH asking if I could run down to 3 Cords later on & take some photos of the 3 Cords Valentine’s Day party. I figured since my normal workflow was interrupted with the non-working internet, I’d run down there, take some pictures, & come back up to the house & finish work.

What is 3 Cords, you ask?
The mission of 3 Cords is to provide opportunities for physically handicapped women & men, & to show them that they are both beautiful and valuable. It is a beautiful place of redemption & restoration. You can read more about 3 Cords & see the beautiful items these men & women make here.

I made it down to 3 Cords around 11:45, said hi to the precious employees, & then we gathered together. After this beautiful woman sang & prayed, this man signed his prayer. The party had started!

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A few of the women began serving the food. I was shocked when they walked toward Adam & I and handed us the first plates. First, I resisted because I had food up in my apartment that I could eat. The women asked me why I didn’t want to eat this food, & I graciously took it with eyes brimming with tears & was stunned. It was a delicious feast, & the afternoon was filled with laughter, dancing, & even a few “catwalk/runway” struts. IMG_8930 copyB copy IMG_8931 copyB copy IMG_8932 copyB copy IMG_8933 copyB copy IMG_8934 copyB copy IMG_8941 copy

As I sat there eating this meal, surrounded by laughter & singing – the love of the Lord was so present. I saw the beauty of that moment. I saw the deep love with which Jesus loves His people, and the beauty of the overflow of that love spilling out to others.
On a holiday where it would be easy to get hung up on what I do not have, the Lord beautifully reminded my heart of the grace that He has lavished upon me.
We are richly loved, friends.

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Sometimes, the combination of non-working internet, a random photo assignment, & an unexpected feast are just the reminders that we need.

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As if that wasn’t a beautiful enough day, we spent the evening having “Galentine’s Day” – girls only – the non married staff ladies & the intern girls hung out at our apartment for the night – & we perfected the art of heart shaped pancakes, watched a movie, & laughed – a lot.

Romans 5:8 – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Fort Jacques // Staff Outing

I love getting to see more & more of this beautiful country. Last week, we took a staff trip to Fort Jacques (which is south of us) and took a tour of the fort. History has never been my favorite subject, but getting to walk through the fort and learn a lot more about the history of Haiti was great and something I am so glad we got to experience as a staff together. Also, there were some great photo opportunities, so you know I loved that. Here’s a peek of the adventure at Fort Jacques:

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Haiti is beautiful.

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Raquel & I – thankful for this roommate & friend of mine!

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Elizabeth & I in front of the Fort

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Gorgeous details.

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Amanda!

It was a great day to learn more about Haiti & bond with the staff. The Lord is doing beautiful things.


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