Urgent Need: Transition Home

Valued reader & friend, I wanted to share with you about an urgent need that we have here at Mission of Hope: Haiti. We have until the beginning of July to provide a solution for the Government of Haiti regarding the 21 orphans who are 18 years old and must legally age out of our orphanage. We have developed an initiative that will allow them to continue to go to high school and maintain our commitment to our family.

21 is not just a number. These are 21 people who we get the opportunity to SHOW them that we believe in them and their future and dreams. These are 21 friends who have personally impacted me and I am eager to see how the Lord uses them in this nation for His glory.

My prayer is that you might be able to support this initiative, or be willing to share it with someone who could.

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God has given Mission of Hope the opportunity to raise up a generation of young Haitian men and women to faithfully serve and follow the Lord, who will play a critical role in continuing to bring life transformation to this beautiful country.

According to Haitian law, no one over the age of 18 is allowed to reside in an orphanage. Sadly, there is no current system of support for those that are aging out of orphanages across the country, and most often these young men and women have to stop attending school because they no longer have a stable home and meal. We do not see this as an option for the kids in our family.

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There are currently 21 transition age kids living on campus.  The Haitian government has graciously given us an extension for those 21 young adults to stay until July 1, 2015.  Sending these kids out to the streets is simply not an option for us. We are committed to loving and supporting them through this new season of life, but also need to honor the Haitian law in the process.

We are working to raise $310,000 by May 1, 2015 so that we can start construction immediately to build a transition home for these 21 kids. We have a plan to build a place for them to call home while they complete their high school education, which includes supporting them with any continued education and continuing to invest in their spiritual formation as they learn advanced life skills needed to be a mature adult.

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These kids have dreams of leading this nation for Christ! Some dream of being business owners so that they can provide jobs for orphans. Others want to be lawyers to advocate for orphans, and some want to be pastors, worship leaders, doctors and so many other things. The common denominator is that they want to use their futures to change Haiti and to help other orphans and abandoned children like themselves.

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Please pray about partnering with us in this initiative, and let me know if there are any questions you have.

Click HERE to read a bit more about this project or click HERE for the direct link to donate to this transition home.

Shoes & Superglue

In Texas, March is the month where spring reintroduces itself to winter, warmer temperatures start to show themselves (sometimes in the middle of snowstorms, but we’ll take what we can get, am I right?), basketball – so much basketball, & if you’re really lucky, you’ll find a sno-cone stand that opened early.

In Haiti, March is a bit different. March is one of our busiest times of the year! It is filled with so much energy & there are so many moving parts. Anyone that has been here in March can testify that it is a unique time & really fun! This March, we had 817 serve at Mission of Hope. 8-1-7. That’s our MOH version of March Madness!

It was awesome. 817 said, “yes” to serving alongside the Haitian people, sweating, eating peanut butter & drinking more Gatorade than they ever have, & experiencing life in a different culture. 817 people chose to redefine their definition of “Spring Break” & give of their time, talents, & resources to help other people for the sake of the Gospel.

If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I work in logistics (AKA: details). D.E.T.A.I.L.S. Lots & lots of details. The amount of details with 817 people? LOTS. & honestly, it’s really easy for me to get caught up in the details that I miss the every day grace that the Lord is lavishing upon people all around. I really hate to say it, but I start thinking & believing the world revolves around me & all.the.details.that.must.be.planned. I’m thankful that when I’m knee deep in details with my head buried in excel documents & email threads, the Lord does not let me stay there for long. Instead, he gently shows me how all of this is about Him. He shows me that HE is in the details. He shows me that HE is orchestrating things far beyond my ability to comprehend & far beyond my ability to plan. I enjoy details & I enjoy planning for things to run smoothly, but I really love when the Lord shows me where He is in the details. He meets me where I’m at, shows me His faithfulness, & takes my eyes off of myself & onto Him. What a good, faithful, God.

I wanted to share one of my favorite “detail” moments from March.

We had a team member, Freddy, who is an airplane engineer & is literally “Mr. Fix-It.” Just an example of how much of a “Mr. Fix-It” Freddy is, in the middle of his team’s Mission’s Launch on the guesthouse roof, the screen tore because of the wind & he pulled out a screwdriver & screw from his pocket & reattached the screen. So, needless to say, he is pretty awesome. One morning I had a team member randomly come up to me asking me if I had any way to fix his broken shoe; the sole had come unglued. I had no idea how to fix it & I didn’t have any glue. I knew the guy had another pair of shoes, so I honestly wasn’t too worried about it. Freddy overheard our conversation & said, “Oh, I have super glue & baking soda…that shoe will be good as new. This is glue they use on airplanes & the baking soda reinforces the bonding agent.” So, he fixed the shoe & I went on with my day thinking it was pretty cool that Freddy had the right stuff.

However, later that day, Freddy’s team was hosting a sports camp with a lot of kids from a local village (Leveque). My little friend, Debus, came up to me at the end of the camp right before they were loading up on the bus to show me that his shoe broke & the sole came unglued. Now, I know this kid & his family & I know that those shoes are some of the only shoes he has. I also know they are the shoes he wears to school with his uniform. Debus came up to me saying, “Rachel, look. My shoe broke.” I looked up & saw Freddy just a few feet away & showed him the broken shoe. He literally pulled out the glue right from his backpack & I watched Debus’ face as he realized that his shoe would be fixed. Sure, Debus’ shoe was repaired, but it was so much more than that for me. It was a reminder of God’s faithfulness & the fact that he sees the details & knows what we need exactly when we need it. To some, it might be a shoe & super glue, but to me, it was a reminder of so much more.

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Ears to Hear.

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I’ve been living in Haiti about 18 months now & I’m getting better at Creole, but I’m certainly nowhere near fluent. So many of my Creole conversations include hand gestures, me asking them to speak slower, a few English words thrown in, & lots of laughter.

In Haitian church services, it is very rare that I actually understand a Creole Prayer. Our pastors & staff are so passionate when they pray, that I cannot break apart the words, process them, & translate them in my head quickly enough.

However, a couple of weeks ago at a Tuesday night worship service, I had my head bowed, & I literally felt like I understood Jacques’ (a local Village Champion) Creole prayer as if it was being spoken in English. I looked around, making sure that he wasn’t speaking English. It was, in fact, Creole. I stood there intently listening; I heard everything.

I heard him pray for each & every department here at Mission of Hope. I heard him pray for his bosses, his co-workers, the pastors, the guesthouse staff, the maintenance & security team, the orphanage, etc. I heard him pray for our Executive staff & I heard him pray by name for so many people. I looked up again, to be extra SURE that he wasn’t speaking in English because I was so surprised I was still understanding. When I looked up the second time, I saw Jacques was on his knees, passionately praying for us all. My eyes quickly filled with tears as I 1) understood what he was praying, 2) saw the fervency with which Jacques was praying.

He was praying for unity, for passion, for protection, for courage, for strength, for health, & for love for His people. He was on his knees passionately praying for his country & for the Lord to work. This sweet man prays for these things, often.

The past few weeks, the Lord has reminded me of the incredible importance of prayer & the joy of praying. Praying is something we get to do. I absolutely believe the Lord has specifically placed people in my life so I can simply have the honor & responsibility of praying for them. Oh, that I would be fervent & steadfast to pray for the people the Lord has placed around me.

Also, for those of you who have recently reached out with encouragement & letting me know that you’ve prayed for me, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. The Lord has used so many of you recently to remind me of the Truth & the beauty of prayer. You are all a gift.

Brandi & Nick: Destination Wedding: Central Park

In December, I received the best email from my friend, Maisie, that read, We wanted to see if you would be interested in flying to NYC [in January] to be the wedding photographer & surprise Brandi.” My friends, Nick & Brandi were having a destination wedding in Central Park, & Brandi assumed the photographer her mom booked was a local NYC photographer. Spoiler alert, it wasn’t.

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It was such an honor to fly to NYC & surprise this dear friend (& former roommate) of mine! I left Port-Au-Prince in the morning & 6 hours later I was standing in the hotel lobby in Times Square surprising Brandi. It was an amazing [COLD] weekend filled with dear friends, sweet memories, & lots & lots of laughing. Here are some my favorite photos from the weekend celebrating Nick & Brandi’s love.

Nick & Brandi, this entire weekend was beautiful & I hope looking back on these pictures reminds you of the beauty of the covenant you’ve made! May your marriage be filled with wonderful moments that create a lifetime of memories to cherish.

take me to the mountains

I can’t believe I forgot to blog about one of my favorite Haiti adventures this past fall.

We went mountain exploring a couple hours away from the mission to a place called Rustik in Furcy. It was truly a dream. I guess I loved it so much, I locked up all the memories in my brain & heart & held onto them tightly. It wasn’t until I was cleaning off my computer recently, that I came across the photos that I never posted. So, enjoy some dreamy mountain photos…a few months late.

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Yep. That’s a tree-house in the middle of the mountains. Magical.

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Below, some photo adventuring with Amanda. You can read her post about this fun adventure HERE.

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Above: we bought SUCCULENTS on the side of the road. I was almost in tears I was so very excited to find some here. It’s the little things, y’all.

Below photos taken by Amanda.

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It was refreshing, rejuvenating, & all together lovely. I can’t wait to go back & visit!

healer.

Monday, January 12, 2015, was the 5 year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti.

It was a day of reflecting on the past, remembering that God has not forsaken His people, & looking forward to the hope of the future. He is faithful. He is a God who restores, redeems, & comforts. Many memories were brought up in the hearts of friends who have lived through loss & experiences I cannot even fathom. I am thankful that God makes beauty come forth from the rubble, & for the tangible healing that is taking place on this island I deeply love…that He deeply loves. The earthquake does not define Haiti, but we will always remember.

We had a Commemoration & Worship Service at the Church of Hope that morning. It was a morning spent praying & worshiping with dear people from our staff & the surrounding villages. It was a sweet time of reflection, prayer, & looking to our HOPE, Jesus. He is making all things new.

Below is a moment that is one of those “forever moments” for me. I will never forget the beauty of singing “Healer” in Creole. It was a powerful morning of worship & this sweet little joyful girl walked right down the aisle at the perfect time.

The chorus of “Healer” is:
I believe You’re my healer
I believe You are all I need
I believe You’re my portion
I believe You’re more than enough for me
Jesus You’re all I need

Below are some photos from the service.

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Christmas in Haiti.

This was my first Caribbean Christmas & it was one for the record books. I will never forget it, the laughter, the joy, the memories made. I took so many photos, & it’s just too difficult to narrow them all down…so, here is a glimpse at my 4 day Haiti Christmas Celebration!

December 23

Am I the only one who has heard December 23rd referred to as “Christmas Adam”? You know, like Christmas Eve…but Adam. Someone please affirm that I’m not ridiculous for calling it this. ;) Anyway, I arrived back in Haiti on Dec. 23! (I had a wonderful time in the States for a short break, but that’s for another post.) I got to the mission & the Annual Guesthouse Staff Party was in full swing. Games, prizes, food, & gifts – it was a huge success & I’m thankful I got to celebrate with Elizabeth & the Guesthouse Staff! When I walked into my apartment, I saw THIS: IMG_0460-11 Now, you may not know this about me, but I LOVE Christmas. I love the lights, the decor, the gold, Advent – ALL.OF.IT. My precious friend Amanda does know this about me, & before her & Matt left for the States for vacation, they bought this beautiful white tree on the side of the road in Port Au Prince (which, side note: I’ve wanted one of these for over a year), hung Christmas lights & ornaments up, & set my advent countdown to the right day so that when I got back in Haiti, I would walk into this. I cried, y’all. In fact, this was my Instagram post: “After traveling back to Haiti all day, to walk into my Haiti home & see THIS? Cue the tears. The most perfectly decorated Christmas tree, & the advent calendar hung up to day 23. 😍 I’m beyond thankful to have friends that know me, & know how much I have loved these white trees for sale all along the roads of Port Au Prince. What a gift to be loved well! SO excited to celebrate Christmas in Haiti this year with dear friends.” It was the perfect start to a Caribbean Christmas!

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve started with a talent show where many of our 62 awesome kids from the Village of Hope (orphanage) performed. They sang, danced, rapped, recited Christmas stories; it was incredibly fun! These kids have got talent. We talked about all of the fun that we were going to have celebrating Christmas over the next few days. Katie focused on the reason we celebrate is because the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus changed everything – flipped cultures upside down – and He is everything. Sure, we love Christmas lights, movies, stories, & songs…but without Jesus, it’s all empty. So, we spent some time reminding the kids (& ourselves) of the beauty of the season. After the talent show, it was dinner time! We ate a delicious meal at the guesthouse, which was beautifully decorated by the kids. Christmas trees & lights in Haiti?! It was pretty magical. After the meal, we went up on the guesthouse roof & watched Home Alone & The Grinch while eating Christmas cookies & popcorn & drinking hot chocolate. Snuggling babies on a breezy rooftop in Haiti on Christmas Eve while Christmas movies play on a projector & a plastic screen? YES PLEASE. IMG_2134-2 IMG_2156-6 IMG_2164-8 IMG_2165-9 IMG_2176-10 IMG_2198-14IMG_0511-2 IMG_2208-20 IMG_2232-29 IMG_2254-35 IMG_2265-37 IMG_2284-39 IMG_2315-47 IMG_2320-49 IMG_2324-51

Did I mention that the kids decorated? So creative [& hilarious].IMG_2326-52 IMG_2340-55IMG_0509-4 IMG_2347-56 IMG_2352-58 IMG_2356-59 IMG_2357-60 IMG_2360-61 IMG_2367-64

Below: movie-time snugglin’

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Christmas Day

Christmas morning we went down to the guesthouse & set up each table with the kid’s personalized & Individualized gifts. Katie spent so much time preparing each & every kid’s bag, & each gift had something they needed, something they wanted, & Christmas candy! So many people made this Christmas morning possible – from incredible sponsors at Gateway Church who blessed these sweet kids with gifts, to behind the scenes planning & preparing from Katie & the rest of the Village of Hope staff! It was truly the most joyful Christmas morning I’ve experienced!

IMG_2389-3 Above: The kids trying to patiently contain their excitement. Below: “COME ONNNNNNN!!”

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below: Baby Jubilee was the most adorable Christmas bundle! <3

IMG_2478-35 IMG_2491-37Here is a video from Christmas Eve & Christmas Day with these incredible kids:

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Above: The 4 MOH Full-Time in Haiti Staff that were here for Christmas. Below: We turned it into a cheesy Christmas “Card” (read: Facebook photo).

Christmas Card After the morning with the kids, we hung out as a staff family & ate brunch, watched movies, & opened some presents some really incredible Secret Santa’s gifted to us. I opened a beautiful new camera lens that I’d had my eye on for quite some time. I cannot say it enough, but THANK YOU. That evening, we all had a family meal with all of the North American staff & families here on campus. It was a day of dancing in the kitchen to “All I want for Christmas is You”, laughter & movie quoting, & time with really sweet friends. While I most certainly missed the nostalgia of Christmas at “home” in Texas with family, this 2014 Caribbean Christmas was incredibly special! I’m humbled & grateful to call this “life.”

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Playing with my new lens! :) below: homemade pumpkin cinnamon rolls!

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movies & laughter!

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Christmas dinner

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As previously mentioned, I got a new lens for Christmas & it has been so much fun taking photos! Below are some photos from around the house I took on Christmas night.

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December 26

The day after Christmas, we had a Haiti Staff Wide Christmas party that afternoon with all of the MOH Staff! One of my favorite parts was circling up in small groups – praying for each other’s families, our work/departments, reflecting on 2014 & thanking God for all that happened, & dedicating 2015 to Him. It’s a blessing to work with these people. 10624688_10153019113727578_6712538633168033975_n1476625_10153019113417578_6148862641125417335_n 10305614_10153019113652578_3831152419378216890_n 10881508_10153019113452578_4423286208916773364_n 10882320_10153019113507578_3686880736677481852_n 10882352_10153019113567578_4375917097275960067_n