“what about the Haitian women?”

Sweet reader, would you grab your cup of coffee & sit with me? Can we pretend we are sitting across the table from each other & having this conversation in person? Great.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I simply love it. I just recently experienced my second Thanksgiving in Haiti & it was a day I’ll never forget.

Many times, I’ve had people ask me about the women here in Haiti. I’ve heard:

  • “Why aren’t there more Haitian women leaders?”
  • “Tell me about the women here…what’s life like as a woman in Haiti?”
  • “Why do Haitian women seem standoff-ish?”

In my experience, oftentimes, the life of a Haitian woman is very difficult. They raise multiple children, prepare tedious meals, wash clothes for the entire family, & try to provide the best they can.

 I do not think they are standoff-ish; they are strong.

Can I tell you about a special team of women I know? They are the [amazing] women who run the guesthouse here at MOH. DSC_9451 guesthouseIMG_6884 edited

These ladies are rockstars in my eyes. They prepare excellent meals & housing for our team members & guests.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Every Monday morning, I get to sit in a meeting with the leadership team of the guesthouse women. A couple months ago, my friend & boss, Elizabeth started the meeting by leading a short Bible Study…& it’s now a weekly tradition. Elizabeth led the first week, I led the second, & the other ladies have taken turns to lead the Bible Study since then. We spend 20 or 30 minutes talking about Scripture, & then we dive into the work talk for the week. It’s a beautiful thing, to start off the week with these women hearing about what the Lord is teaching them. Above is a photo of my friend Mana leading the Bible Study a couple of weeks ago.

The past few weeks, we have been talking about Thanksgiving. We had over 120 North American team members serving at Mission of Hope and our surrounding partner villages over Thanksgiving week, & these women did an incredible job of going all out by serving a beautiful dinner for our teams. Thanksgiving Day was like a normal work day in the offices, except each time I popped my head into the guesthouse kitchen, I kept getting ear-to-ear grins from these precious women as they prepared a beautiful turkey dinner for our guests. To make this even more special, this meal was a surprise for our team members!

Below are some photos from Thanksgiving dinner at the guesthouse. I asked the ladies to walk out with me so they could see the team’s faces when they heard they would be served an “American” Thanksgiving meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, & beautiful deserts.

Oh, how I loved this moment.

IMG_3091 finalIMG_3100 editedIMG_3092 final

After the guesthouse cheered & clapped for these women, Darly prayed for the meal in Creole.

IMG_3103 edited

These women are strong, wise, funny, talented, kind, opinionated, & servant-hearted.

They are leaders.

They have families, children, responsibilities, & they balance their roles well.

After they set the table, & saw me snapping photos of the gorgeous spread, they looked at me & asked proudly, “Rachelle, ou kontan?” [Rachel, are you happy?]” My eyes got watery & I walked to each of them, hugged them, kissed them on the cheek, looked them in the eye, & said, “Anpil. Kontan anpil. Mesi. [Very. Very happy. Thank you.]” They were beaming.

IMG_0736 copyIMG_1235

After dinner, I sent Marie France, the guesthouse manager a text message that said, “Dinner is wonderful!!!” Her response was not, “The ladies worked really hard at making it wonderful!” or “We planned really well!”

Her response?

“God is awesome. Great!!!!”

God is awesome. Great!

I’m thankful for a team of amazing women who work hard, laugh loud, share ideas, serve well, & who lead. I’m thankful for a team of women who, for such a time as this, are gathered around a table every Monday morning talking about the Gospel & the implications it has on our lives, our jobs & team, our emotions, our families, & our hope. I’m thankful that in the midst of a culture where being a woman can be exhausting, these women are joyful leaders.

IMG_0592 copy

Marie France (above) & her sweet text message response (below).

IMG_0737

I am thankful for these women & the lives they impact – mine included. I am thankful they are able to provide for their families by working in an environment where they are respected, loved, & have dignity. I wish that was the reality for all of the women in Haiti. I know that is not the case. Oh, that more women would be able to have jobs where they are treated with the love that they deserve.

We will keep loving, serving, & striving to reach every man, woman, & child in Haiti so they can hear, feel, & see the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we run after these individual lives, I wanted to share with you some of my experiences with “the women of Haiti.”

They let me in a group photo with them! ;)

DSC_9464


 

As I mentioned above, I know the life of a Haitian woman can be very difficult. I have some dear friends on staff who spend their Thanksgiving Day here in Haiti spending time with women in brothels in a local village – you can read about it here & here.

pottery & babies.

Saturdays are my day off. Some Saturdays are quiet & restful – spent at home reading, hammocking, & doing laundry. Other Saturdays are spent at the beach or the grocery store. This particular Saturday was different than the “norm” & little did I know – it was exactly what my heart needed.

Several of us ladies had signed up for a pottery class in Port Au Prince at The Apparent Project, & I couldn’t wait to try my hand at making bowls. (Spoiler alert: it’s way more difficult than it looks.) I was having flash backs to 7th grade art class & laughing at the memory of a “mug” that I made for my mom one time. Sorry about that – mom. Thanks for pretending it was the loveliest mug you’d ever seen. I also realized that I will not be changing my career over to be a potter anytime soon.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

IMG_4567edited35

IMG_4566edited34

IMG_4563edited37

IMG_4561edited36

It was a morning of laughter, friends, creating, & frozen coffee drinks. The best. I loved getting to spend time with these joyful artisans & friends creating bowls & painting coffee mugs.


My heart was already so full by mid day that I didn’t think there was room for more joy. Well, I was wrong. After lunch, we went to a nearby village to visit Jorshky, a precious baby boy who was born just three days before. Jorshky’s family are friends of ours, & his kind father works at the mission. Getting to snuggle with this precious baby & visit with his family? Be still my heart.

Also, the sweet mama was told during the entire pregnancy that she was pregnant with a girl. They bought pink everything…& surprise! Jorshky is a boy. A perfect little boy rockin’ pretty butterfly onesies like he runs the place.


As I sat there holding this little guy, I kept thinking about how sweet the Lord was to let me start the day with molding literal clay, & then end the day holding a tiny new born baby.

Psalm 139:13 & Isaiah 64:8 were whispers in my head & heart as I touched Jorshky’s baby hands & stared at his tiny fingernails.

  • For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13.
  • But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, & you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

A Saturday full of pottery & holding babies? I’ll take that everyday, please.

sunrise adventuring.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” C. S. Lewis

Disclaimer: photo overload.

6:00 am sunrise photo adventures might be one of my favorite things.

IMG_1589editedIMG_1476editedIMG_1588edited

Strong coffee, wild hair, & the steady rising sun coming over the hills?
All the good things.

IMG_1583edited

A couple weeks ago on a Saturday night, my sweet friend Amanda & I had the wild idea to get up early the next morning, make a french press, meet each other out on a hill, & create an adventure. This may seem silly to some of you – but for me? It was exactly what my heart needed. To stare at the mountains with strong coffee in one hand & my camera in the other with one of my dear friends beside me – watching the light make itself known – so peaceful.


It’s beautiful to recognize how God has graciously provided many friends as a staff family – and see how each of them have different passions & skill-sets. I love how different we all are, & that we truly create a family. I love how some are incredibly musically talented, some are business savvy, some are amazing with children, others are jewelry makers, a few are google doc pros, some love the medical field & actually don’t pass out at the sight of blood (who knew?!), some are gifted communicators, others are artists, some are teachers & pastors, others are fixers – it’s a beautiful melting pot of people here for the sake of the Gospel & the glory of God.

It’s family, & I adore all of these people.

Amanda is no stranger to this blog. She is a dear friend-basically-sister that shares passions of photography, doodling, neutral colors, Gilmore Girls, coffee, sun-flare, theology talks, & the list goes on. Her & her husband Matt are one of the power couples on staff here, & I am very thankful for their friendship.

IMG_1541edited IMG_1597edited IMG_1598edited IMG_1600edited IMG_1607editedIMG_1645edited IMG_1656edited IMG_1660edited IMG_1661edited IMG_1693edited

All of the below photos are from Amanda. Thanks for adventuring with me early in the morning & sharing wild ideas like waking up extra early for fun pictures!

DSC_7889 DSC_7924  DSC_8009 DSC_8025 DSC_8054 DSC_8067 DSC_8100 DSC_8103 DSC_8140 DSC_8192 DSC_8202 DSC_8213 DSC_8228
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” – C. S. Lewis

in |e v e r y| season.

All of my life, in every season,
You are still God, I have a reason to sing,
I have a reason to worship. – Hillsong, Desert Song

IMG_1483edited IMG_1651edited IMG_1673edited

I’ve sang “Desert Song” countless time. I know that in dry seasons & in flourishing seasons, God is still God. He is still holy, faithful, true, good, just, & sovereign.
I know these things.

But this past season? Knowledge of these things wasn’t enough. They were what I held onto; my heart had to believe them.

The past few months, the reality of this broken world has been tangible. It has been heavy & heartbreaking. Death is a reality. I know this & I understand it, but it still hurts. As a Christian, I think the reality of death will always hurt because it is the result of sin entering the world & it is the reality of living in a broken world. As a believer in Christ, there is a beauty beyond this world & the eternal life He has given us.

This past season, there have been multiple reminders of the uncertainty & the quickness of this life. Partners in ministry have passed away, friends have lost their lives, little ones with sicknesses that there are no cures for have taken their last breath, car accidents have claimed the life of young men, depression has threatened the lives of friends…there is a heaviness. In the midst of this season of heaviness, I have seen the Lord working, comforting, providing, healing, & guiding. I think this line of “Desert Song” has been my heart’s anthem – “All of my life, in every season, You are still God, I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship.”

I can trust Him. What a beautiful Truth to rest my heart on when I lay my head down each night.

There is a reality that the Gospel message must be shared message with urgency.
We are not promised tomorrow. Our coworkers are not promised tomorrow.
When I look around & see the people God has put in my life for this season, I don’t want to wait to talk about Jesus. I don’t want to wait to hear their story. Perhaps that’s why I’m here.

My heart literally could burst from joy when I think about the Gospel & what Jesus has done. This past season has ignited the desire amongst our staff to have continued Gospel conversations with all of those around us – fellow staff, people in the villages, team members…everyone. We are burdened to find out where people are at, & walk through this season of life with them. I’m encouraged to look back & see the ways the Lord graciously pursued my heart, & I’m encouraged to see the way He continues to pursue the hearts of His people. In every season, friends – He is who He says He is.
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Cor. 1:9.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1.
 

A few of my friends here on staff beautifully wrote about this past season – HERE is Elizabeth’s post. HERE is Amanda’s. They are both worth the read!

the process.

The process of creating a masterpiece?

IMG_1362edited IMG_1385edited

It’s messy.

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.

IMG_1395edited

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.

IMG_1376edited

IMG_1387edited

Below, Emmanuel stands closely beside Jojo to help him when he needs more paint.

IMG_1413edited IMG_1382edited

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.

Village of Hope Summer Highlight Video

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 8.58.04 AM

“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!

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetnotes from our brainstorming session

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.

IMG_7403

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!

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 8.44.05 AMScreen Shot 2014-09-15 at 8.45.44 AM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 9.00.51 AM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 9.02.48 AM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 9.03.53 AM

Above is Mr. Lookens – I LOVE that he agreed to be in the video for the kids. He is a deeply respected staff member here & this only made me respect him all the more. Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 9.04.04 AM

Austin || Texas.

Austin title white

Y’all. I can start a sentence with “y’all” because I’m a Texan, right?

Great.

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.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
Famous Amy’s – the dark chocolate flavor was on point.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset
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.)

IMG_3057After 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!

IMG_3130
The Capitol.

IMG_3128
I loved exploring this city with these 2 dear friends!

Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 10.15.07 AM
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??

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with t1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Uncommon objects was full of wonderful (hilarious) things!

Uncommon Objects
“The Science of Facial Expression” – If the title of this book & this photo doesn’t summarize our friendship, then I don’t know what does.

Processed with VSCOcam with m6 presetcamerasIMG_3086 copystamps
lovely details at Toms coffee shop.
Have I mentioned that coffee shops are my love language?

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset
string lights & live music? yes, please.
Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset
My dear dear friend Liz! I LOVED getting to see her & enjoy the best salad of my life at Bouldin Creek Cafe with her & Jess.

IMG_3132
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.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

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. :)