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!
Making friends on the “mission field” in a foreign country is unique, because you literally live together, eat together, work together, go to church together, work out together, spend days off together, watch marathon nights of 24 together, do Bible studies together, learn new languages together, cook together, & the list goes on.
Friendships grow quickly here. It’s a really sweet thing – but it makes goodbyes really, really difficult.
Brittany was an intern in the fall when I moved here on staff, & she joined the staff family at the beginning of 2014 to work on the Child Sponsorship team. With (eternal tears), I am both sad & joyful that she moved back to South Carolina at the beginning of June to be a 2nd grade teacher.
If there are any 7 year old children from South Carolina reading my blog that happen to be placed in her classroom, hear me on this: YOU’VE GOT THE BEST TEACHER.
I’m joyful because I KNOW that the Lord has specifically given her this season to teach, influence, & love these kids well. I’m sad because she is so, so dearly missed by all of us at MOH.
I know it sounds crazy, but 7 months of a friendship here feels like 7 years. So, I’m a few weeks late in posting this blog because honestly? I didn’t want to. I did not want to accept the fact that Brittany was back in the states quite yet.
Brittany, you impacted each of us, & you continue to do so. Thank you for teaching me more about grace, kindness, humility, & pointing to Jesus with your life. You are a dear friend, always!
So many great memories! We all miss & love you dearly. Thank you for being such a wonderful friend, roommate, co-worker, mango-cutter, Mod Fam watcher, & running partner! You made an impact here, & you will make an impact in that classroom full of little precious kids. Keep pointing to Jesus, sweet friend.
**Also, I’m coming to visit SC & go to Dave Barnes’ concerts & hipster coffee shops, okay? Okay.**
I sat in a meeting a couple months ago as we discussed some changes on the horizon in regards to our traditional Haitian meal for Sunday night dinner at Mission of Hope. As we continue to grow (praise the Lord), we began brainstorming the best thing for our Haitian staff & their days off, the team members we have serving week-to-week, & for the platform & responsibility we have to train the younger generation with the resources we have.
We have 62 young men & women that live at Mission of Hope in the orphanage (AKA: Hope House). Over half of these kids are in their teen years, & several of those kids are between 17-20. As our staff is praying through a transition program for these young adults, they came up with teaching these older girls a valuable skill – hospitality & cooking!
As of May 11, Sunday night meal is now prepared by a group of talented young women from our orphanage. As part of their preparation for transitioning out of the orphanage, our young adults have the opportunity to start part time jobs in different areas of the mission, including the Guest House.
I can not imagine a better place to learn this great skill, & better people to learn from.
Can I be honest? I was nervous sitting in the meeting a couple months ago. I was nervous about change right on the verge of busy season. But then? May 11 arrived & I was a misty-eyed mess. I watched these young women serve so diligently, & cook with such skill. I saw them laughing, I saw them working together, & I saw them learning. Learning from Frankline & Mommy Roseline.
On May 11, these girls (along with Frankline & Mommy Roseline) prepared 115 meals.
It was SUCH a success. Not only did the food taste incredible, but when I was able to stand in front of the guesthouse & announce the exciting news to the team members, the guesthouse abounded in applause & cheering. My eyes welled up when I saw the girls beaming.
Sundays in Haiti have always been a favorite day of mine, & now? Sundays have only gotten better. Each week, I am reminded that we serve a loving God that goes before us, that is for us, & knows what we need.
I keep thinking about how grateful I am to be surrounded by leadership that is willing to take risks & branch out of their comfort zone & safety nets in order to do the best thing. I’m so thankful that I was not the one to make the decision – because honestly? I can not say that I would have done the “risky” thing or the thing that “had never been done before”. I’m SO glad that I have leadership that did. What an invaluable lesson.
I traveled to Florida for a week recently for a “workcation” – basically, working remotely & some R&R time. Matt & Amanda were traveling home [to FL] for a couple weeks of rest, & I snagged the last seat on the same flight as them. Traveling with friends makes life more fun :) Our first meal in Florida was Chipotle – YUM. I’m thankful for friends that let me hop in their rental car with them & drive across the state of FL.
Below: Jessica & Betsy – these incredible women work stateside with Mission of Hope & serve diligently to plan mission trips for people. Thankful for their friendship! Jess, thanks for incredible hospitality, including me in your family’s Easter weekend in the Keys, & letting me take over the guest room for a week.
Above: Fryin’ those hush-puppies
Below: Strawberry picking at the sweetest place.
After getting back from the Keys, we kicked it into high gear & worked.
While in America, it’s only logical to run errands & pick up things to take back to my Haiti home.
Below: Amanda & I went to Trader Joe’s together! We were ecstatic!
Not a bad way to spend the afternoon:
Oh, just Jess saving a Gopher tortoise from getting hit by cars.
So, apparently rompers are the new thing in America. Who knew.
Whew! And that’s a wrap on the Florida Trip. Too fun.
Easter Egg Hunt with the Village of Hope Kids:
The weekend before Easter, we had an awesome egg hunt with the 63 awesome kids that live at Mission of Hope.
SO MUCH YES.
Total [awesome] chaos.
So glad to have been able to be a part of the epic egg hunt of 2014!
These photos are a bit older & are from Brittany’s blog, but I just find them hilarious! Thanks for sharing, Brit!
Above: Late night games & runnin’ around barefoot result in Brittany & I having dirtyyyy feet.
Below: My feelings toward losing card games.
Below: Brooke, Brittany, & I pretending we’ve mastered this whole grilling thing.
So many good things. Thanks for reading!
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.
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.
Above: Mathensly rockin’ those Raybans.
Below: Teachin’ him young.Above: Clare (Amanda’s mom!) & Amanda.
I speak for me & my roommates when I say that we loved having you stay with us! :) Above: A brief moment with a little neighbor girl who was so soft spoken, but eventually cracked a smile :)
Below: Those kids LOVE Amanda!Below: Amanda & Mathensly…just melting your heart like it’s their job.
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!
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!
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.
The next 4 photos are from various team members from the trip!
So, photo cred to them :)
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!