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

“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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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! ;)

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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.

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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“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

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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!