The process of creating a masterpiece?
It often looks like a jumbled mess with pockets of color everywhere: sometimes bright patches, sometimes dark patches.
A couple of years ago, I had an experience at a class in the States where I was painting a beautiful forest filled with trees & flowers. It was a group class, & we were all following the instructor’s directions. When she told us where to start painting & what colors to start with, I thought she was crazy. I didn’t see what she saw. I couldn’t fathom how the strokes I was painting would eventually turn out to look like a beautiful forest. When the class was over & I looked at my painting, I was pleasantly surprised at the way it turned out. It did, in fact, look like a forest with trees & flowers. There were valuable life lessons in this experience…but I, being a forgetful & busy human quickly moved past it & didn’t ever really sit & process how rich the experience was.
The Lord graciously brought back another opportunity for me to learn a deep Truth.
Yesterday, my job was out of the ordinary of my typical Wednesday. I had the privilege of going to Port Au Prince with Amanda to meet with my very talented painter friend Jojo (John Paul Joseph). He was born with a congenital birth defect & has very small arms & no legs. He loves the Lord, loves Haiti, & loves to create beautiful paintings.
I first met Jojo in 2012, & I remember his magnetic personality, his kind heart, & his perfect English. When it came time to think of someone to help us with a painting, Jojo immediately came to mind. Jojo shared stories while Amanda & I took photos. I was working on getting my camera settings right (hello blue walls), & then I felt the weight of the beauty of where we were at & the lessons the Lord was reteaching me. There we were, visiting with this talented, God-fearing man in the middle of Port Au Prince at a home for the disabled. The smiles from everyone when we walked in were filled with hope, purpose, & gratitude.
I focused in on the brush attached to Jojo’s right arm by a band. There was a cut-off soda bottle with water to rinse the brushes, & a tray full of paint.
Below, Emmanuel stands closely beside Jojo to help him when he needs more paint.
The process of creating a masterpiece? It’s trusting the one creating it. There are messy parts. There are sections of bright colors. There are sections of dark colors. But the artist? He knows what he is doing.
Jesus wrecked me yesterday.
He reminded me that what I can often view as unfinished or messy is part of the process. Each stroke has purpose. It’s all contributing to the masterpiece that is well-intentioned & thought out.
It’s beautiful because we have a perfect Creator who loves us deeply and has promised not to abandon us or leave us unfinished.
I’m resting in that Truth & I’m grateful the Lord put me back into a situation to remind me.
Here’s to the visual learners, the artists, & the ones that feel like a bit of a mess. I’m right there with you.
“I want to make something new & different for the summer so everyone can be happy & proud of this work. So everyone can have fun. We make it for fun. So everyone can enjoy it. All the kids, all the babies, all the mommies – everyone.” – Macline (center of above photo).
After you watch, be sure to scroll down to read more about it & see some of my favorite shots from the video.
Macline is one of the older girls that lives at MOH in the Village of Hope.
(You’ve seen her on the blog before here.)
Her idea this summer was to make a music/highlight video of activities throughout the orphanage. She knew she wanted to use the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. We brainstormed ideas & made a list of the different shots she wanted, & then…we got to filming!
What I love about this video?
My friend Katie, our interim Orphanage Director, empowered Macline to take ownership of this project…& she did. Macline led this. This was her vision. Macline was supported. She had great leadership that led her well, & she in turn was able to lead the Village of Hope for this fun project. They danced together, sang together, laughed together…& I simply had the privilege to film it & put the pieces together.
What I love about this video?
The kids were joyful to participate in this summer video because Macline was leading this. She stood up at their family meeting one Saturday morning & shared why she wanted to do it, & they did it. Macline, like a great leader, shared with the other kids the “WHY” behind this video, & then she was in it with them.
She didn’t simply tell them what to do – she did it with them.
What I love about this video?
When we had the reveal party earlier this week here at the mission, Macline responded with, “Thank you! Can we watch it again?” And we proceeded to watch it again. After we watched it on the big screen again, they still wanted to watch it more, so we gathered around my laptop & watched 3 more times.
5 times they watched this video. 5 times they giggled, jumped around, & tapped each other on the shoulder each time one of them was on the screen. I hope Macline walked away from the reveal party feeling like a rock star…because she is.
Below are just a few stills from the video that I just love. What a fun project that created many sweet memories!
Y’all. I can start a sentence with “y’all” because I’m a Texan, right?
I love Texas. I love the heat [call me crazy], the hill country, DFW, rivers, tea, BBQ, bluebonnets, camping, & the list goes on.
This past time home from Haiti, I spent several days in Austin to work from our Mission of Hope stateside office & connect with the wonderful staff family stateside.
Amanda & Matt were there too, which was so fun! I love getting to be in the states with these friends from Haiti, because we just get each other. We share the desire to sit in a coffee shop for 3 hours because we can. And we understand the joy of being able to simply drive around at night. I know, it sounds a bit weird…but all of my Haiti friends get it.
We had so much fun with the MOH Staff, & had incredible friends that fearlessly led us around Austin.
It’s such a great city!
Below are a few highlights of the trip (captions are above the photos).
“hopdoddy” – great burgers!
Kendra Scott’s flagship store is beside it.
this wall is so perfectly “Austin” cliche…& I love it. No shame.
left to right: Cammie, Amanda, myself, & Jess.
Cammie & Jess are 2 of the many amazing staff that work in the Austin office!
(Thanks for taking our picture, Matt. This seems to become a theme this trip…ha.)
After this, we walked 4 miles around downtown…because “oh, the Capitol is just right there!” Ha. We clearly under-exaggerated justttt how far it was. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful night with sweet friends walking around a great city!
Below are several hilarious photos that we took on South Congress while exploring all of the wonderful spots. Matt loves being our photographer so much, that he took 37 photos. Isn’t that brick wall perfect??
Uncommon objects was full of wonderful (hilarious) things!
Cammie, Jess, & I went downtown for a run around Lady Bird Lake with my favorite dog, Stanley. It started out bright & sunny…& then a massive storm hit. So…we embraced it & ran in the rain. Stanley wasn’t phased. We finished the night off with a healthy dinner at Juiceland.
These are the highlights: coffee shops, delicious food, rest, great friends & community. It was a great way to wrap up my time in the states & to be rejuvenated to go back to Haiti. I’m excited to be back in Haiti for the fall, & hope to be blogging a bit more – I’m not going to make any promises though. :)
“VBS. VBS.” • Vacation Bible School
6,576 children attended VBS in 6 weeks.
22,717 hot meals were served.
912 children accepted Christ through VBS.
I’m so very proud of our Haitian & North American staff, as well as all of the teams that worked incredibly hard to provide an environment where these precious kids could learn about Jesus & His love for them. What a great part of summer!
This story – You’ll want to read this.
photo by: Amanda Johnson
Sweet reader, my dear friend (& fellow MOH staff member) Amanda wrote a beautiful post about a little girl named Mydaline. Click here to read it.
L I F E T R A N S F O R M A T I O N.
Village of Hope Soccer Games
They’re so fun to watch! And if they’re not playing soccer, they’re cheering & dancing along the sidelines.
J O Y.
This 2014 Summer was wonderful, beautiful, organized chaos.
More stories will be shared.
It’s just a living room.
It’s just a car.
It’s just a front porch in a village.
It’s just a kitchen table.
It’s just a coffee shop.
It’s just a running trail.
It was just a living room…until you are sitting on the couch with friends praying over the next seasons in your lives & thanking God for the summer. It becomes a holy moment & a holy place.
It was just a porch in a village…until you realize this bond of grace & are surrounded by dear friends laughing & hearing multiple languages & you can’t understand them all but you can understand laughter & joy & this grace bond. Holy.
It was just a restaurant…until it becomes the place where you are sitting face to face with those you love & talking about the most loving Creator who made one another for such a time as this & is THE Unchanging in the midst of an ever-changing world. Holy.
It was just a car ride…until you are hearing His Word & seeing His creation & that driver’s seat where you’re sitting becomes a monumental moment of worship. Holy.
It happens all•the•time & each time, I’m stopped in my tracks.
The ordinary moments…
I’m learning to really love them.
22 was a wonder[full] year: moving to Haiti, sweet new friendships, & lots of challenges along the way.
I’ve transitioned out of the year of the infamous Taylor Swift song, & into year 23. New song for this year?
Dave Barnes – Twenty Three. It’s a good one – I suggest looking it up.
My 23rd Birthday was a perfect day.
I made coffee & sat at the kitchen table reading – reflecting – praying. Looking back at the past year, & looking ahead at the future. My heart was (and still is) overwhelmed with gratefulness for what the Lord has done & is doing. Then, my wonderful roommate, Raquel, surprised me with a gift that my thoughtful mom brought down when she came to Haiti in MARCH. It had cards & gifts from my mom, precious grandparents, & friends back home. So intentional & thoughtful – thanks everyone!
Then, I opened to door to be greeted by my sweet friend Amanda bringing me fresh flowers in a mason jar & a pretty handwritten note. This friend gets me, y’all.
I spent the morning on the guesthouse roof at staff church, worshiping with the MOH Staff overlooking the country that we so deeply love. Then, I went back up to my apartment to find Amanda making CREPES. Fresh. Homemade. Crepes. With strawberries. What a gift. Lots of sweet friends on staff came up to the apartment to hang out, drink coffee, & eat crepes.
After lunch, I went out to Leveque to spend time with my people. Amanda accompanied me with her beautiful talent of photography, & captured some of my most favorite photos ever. The afternoon was full of singing, dancing, laughing, braiding, hide-&-seeking, spinning, & just plain joy.
J O Y.
I was overwhelmed at the glimpses of grace the entire day.
The day concluded with a “meeting” AKA: surprise Birthday party – up at the Vision House with the staff. Cake, kind words, & friends.
My heart almost burst.
From an outsider’s perspective – there was nothing monumental that took place on that day. But to me? It was one of the most special days I’ve been given. I am so thankful.
Each day, friends – grace is abounding. Do you see it?
All Photos taken by ©Amanda Johnson, 2014
Here is a peek of little moments recently.
Lots of laughter, reflection, & expectation as I look toward the future.
I am so thankful for this life.
Debus & his family are doing well. Love that little man!
below: remember that time I hopped in the truck to drive & the person before me was a BIT shorter than me?
JeColleen is radiant.
About a month ago, I posted this on Instagram:
It’s the kind of Monday that I’ve spilled my coffee everywhere, there’s a hole in my shirt, I’m starting to feel sick, & I’m discouraged at small details at work that I’ve missed. But then, a kind friend brings me a fresh fruit smoothie & a shift in perspective happens. There is no place else I’d rather be. I serve a faithful God who has supplied all of my needs. I’m a wreck, but I’m a wreck with a fruit smoothie & a faithful God.
Is there any greater thrill than going backwards & upside down on a slide?
Another Sunday afternoon of visiting in Leveque.
The photo below accurately depicts a very normal way of conversation.
Lots of hand gestures in order to provide the most clarification in a conversation as possible…ha.
below: I bought these same chips at the grocery store in Port Au Prince for about $10 US, only to come back to America & see them at Central Market for $2.68. WHAT?! Ridiculous. And I had convinced myself that $10 wasn’t too bad. I’m apparently losing all knowledge of logical prices for things.
I was able to come back to the states for about a week in May to celebrate Grant & Elizabeth’s wedding. It was a FULL week with lots of amazing friends, nights on the Denton square, & sweet family.
While I was in the states for Grant & Elizabeth’s wedding, my sweet friend Amanda at Mission of Hope kept sending me updates & photos from my friends in Leveque. So thoughtful!
Whew. It’s been a great month. Looking forward to updating y’all on the awesome, crazy, & productive summer months!