Hurricane Matthew: October 2016

For several months, I’ve sat down at my computer to try & write about Hurricane Matthew hitting Haiti this past Fall. Each time I sat down, I was met with a blank computer screen & a flood of images, memories, & emotions. Today, I went back through the photos I posted on Instagram throughout those heavy weeks in October.

I value the space on this blog to share life experiences, update supporters & prayer partners about what God is doing in Haiti, & to have a digital scrapbook. Below is an overview of photos & captions from those weeks because I do not want to forget what those days were like & the weight of those moments.

Dates & captions are below each photo.

1_haitian-flagOctober 2, 2016 – “Would y’all be praying as Hurricane Matthew approaches the Caribbean islands? Would you specifically pray for families living in tents/temporary homes & that the Lord would redirect & calm this storm? I am unbelievably proud of & grateful for our @mohhaiti team on the ground – they are well prepared & have already began mobilizing relief efforts to parts of the island expected to get hit the hardest.”1_prepOctober 3, 2016 – “Today was a day of prayer & strategizing relief efforts in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew hitting Haiti today & into tomorrow. Many of you have personally reached out to me asking what you or your church can do. The most efficient & effective way to provide crisis relief in a time like this is to financially partner with organizations on the ground that you trust. Friends, I know Mission of Hope. I trust & SEE that each dollar given is stewarded with excellent integrity. I know the relief plan drafted up is strategic & well thought out. And I’m amazed at the network of partnerships God has graciously provided & believe it is the best way to effectively reach those in immediate need for essential relief. I’m asking that you partner alongside us financially as we have prepared to provide emergency relief with water, food, medical care, clean up & additional needs throughout the country. Today has been a beautiful reminder of how deeply grateful I am for the team here at MOH & amazed to see how God has united His people from all across the world to pray, serve, & sacrifice for others. Please continue to pray for Haiti as the storm continues to hit.”2_haiti-hurricane-matthew-hq-4840October 8, 2016 – “I landed in Haiti 2 days ago & the only word I can find for this photo is “sobering”. This is a photo I personally took Thursday in the south of Haiti that was recently hit by Hurricane Matthew. The devastation is real & the immediate need for relief & aid is great.
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For years, I have personally seen the work that Mission of Hope does to serve our brothers & sisters across Haiti. Through HaitiOne, over 400 organizations across Haiti are working together. This morning, a 55 ton barge was sent out with food & water & is being deployed to the south. Drivers are headed north with loaded down trucks. I watched our warehouse be emptied in full faith of its refill to continue – this is what God means when he commands us to to walk in faith & to consider others as greater than ourselves. I believe God has equipped His church for such a time as this. God has invited us AND equipped us to join Him in the work of redemption.
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Today, my heart aches because of the loss of many lives, homes, & communities from this devastating storm.
Today, I am also reminded that darkness will never overcome the light. That’s a promise & God is faithful to fulfill his promises.
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Many of you have asked how you can help. The next few weeks are crucial in continuing to get aid out to areas like this. The link to our @mohhaiti relief page is in my profile, I’d be honored if you would come alongside us.”

3_haiti-hurricane-matthew-hq-5897October 10th – “R E S I L I E N T.
When people ask me about the Haitian people, that’s the first word that comes to my mind. It’s truly beautiful to see their resilience & strength. Would you please continue to pray for these people & support relief going to those who have endured so much suffering? The relief efforts are only just beginning. There is so much devastation to overcome. As we walked through this village at sunrise, these joyful little beauties were yet another reminder that the darkness WILL NOT drive out the light.”4_haiti-hurricane-matthew-hq-5920October 11th – “Hope is never a situation. Hope is never a location. Hope is never an ideology. Hope is a person, & his name is Jesus Christ.” – Paul Tripp.

I’m convinced that the sky here in Haiti has never looked so beautiful as it has the past several days. The sun gleaming over the mountains in the morning, & the display of brilliant color as it sets in the evening is a reminder that God is good & does good.

Hope is here because Jesus is who He says He is. He calls us to join Him in the restoration of this broken world; to proclaim Christ in this brokenness, & to care for the broken & hurting – it’s what Jesus did & it’s what He’s equipped us to do.”5_haiti-hurricane-matthew-hq-6039October 12th – “R E A L I T Y.
When Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti last week, many villages across southwest & northern Haiti were wiped out. However, the devastation continues to increase after the storm, as cholera & threat of starvation take lives. Mission of Hope is diligently working alongside multiple organizations as we exhaust resources to get to these people in these villages by boat, plane, & truck. Please continue to pray for these people, their health, & for the Lord to continue to work through His church by healing the sick, caring for them, & proclaiming His love for them. He is faithful.”6_haiti-hurricane-matthew-hq-6262October 12th – “The anthem over the past week: “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord” Psalm 27:13.
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I am confident that the Lord’s goodness is evident & He is working through His church in ways that can only be described as miraculous. Please continue to pray for these people, as there is still so much to be done.”7_haiti-hurricane-matthew-hq-5881October 13th – “Please join the Mission of Hope family in praying Psalm 20 this morning. Thousands have been helped, but thousands are still waiting. We need doors opened. We need favor. Let’s pray & trust He will provide.”8_haiti-hurricane-matthew-hq-5893October 13th – “P S A L M • 2 0.
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May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices!
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Selah
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May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!
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Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.
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O Lord, save the king! May he answer us when we call.”
9_haiti-hurricane-matthew-hq-5887October 14th – “There have been multiple moments over the past week that will forever be etched into my heart & mind.
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One conversation from this morning was when I walked into Mr. Lookens’ office & stood talking with him & Mr. Wantously, both Haitian leaders here at MOH who I’ve grown to know & love the past 3 years.
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Mr. Lookens said, “When I go to sleep at night, I see Jeremie (southern town wiped out by Hurricane Matthew) in my mind. When I think if it was my wife or son that couldn’t find clean water to drink or food to eat, that hurts me. We have to do everything we can to help these people.”
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Sometimes I do not know how to explain to my friends or family what Haiti is like, but the conversation this morning paints a beautiful picture of unity & fighting for one another. They hurt when their neighbors hurt. They fight for them, pray alongside them, & labor on behalf of them.
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It’s a beautiful thing.”10_haiti-hurricane-matthew-hq-5458October 19th “This photo was taken right before the first barge docked for relief delivery in Jeremie — one of the villages significantly affected by Hurricane Matthew here in Haiti.
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The sun glaring through the ruins reminded me that true Hope is found in Christ & Christ alone. Anything else can be gone in an instant.
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This truth of Jesus being our HOPE has carried our team the past 2 weeks & will continue to carry us as we strive to reach the broken & hurting.”11_haiti-hurricane-matthew-hq-5863October 20th – “The reality of the Lord’s presence in the midst of destruction & affliction has forever marked me.
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Affliction & disasters are not new. The reality of a broken world is heavily felt, but the Truth of a risen, reigning, & reconciling King is felt all the more. He is good & is doing good; He calls His church to act & what a privilege that is.
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Last night we gathered together as a MOH family & shared glimpses of what we’ve seen God doing through His church across the globe. Nothing short of amazing.
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1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 — We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”12_Haiti Hurricane Matthew HQ-5837.jpgOctober 22nd – “This is Marvens, a soft spoken little guy from Anse d’Hainault, standing in the midst of his decimated village.
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I’m headed back to Austin after spending a couple weeks helping with relief efforts after Hurricane Matthew swept through Haiti.
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The days have gone by in a blur, but when I look back on the past 16 days in Haiti, the words that come to mind are: devastation, unity, desperation, resilience, survival, strength, & HOPE.
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As the rebuilding continues, my anthem for the Haitian people is Romans 12:12 – Rejoice in Hope. Be patient in tribulation. Be constant in Prayer.
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What the enemy means for evil, God will use for good. I’ve firsthand seen the beginnings of this & know that He is faithful.”13_Haiti Hurricane Matthew HQ-5063.jpgNovember 29th – “For Giving Tuesday, I can’t help but think of these incredible drivers at Mission of Hope who went above & beyond to load & deliver supplies after Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti. All smiles & ready to serve their neighbors.
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We would be honored if you’d choose Mission of Hope to invest in. Lives are impacted daily & it’s an honor to serve with these incredible people.”


It’s almost February of 2017. Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti on October 4, 2016. So now what? We’ve seen a network of organizations & people unite & work together to serve the communities we work in through HaitiOne. We’ve seen unity like never before. We’ve seen resilience, growth, & restoration. The amount of work to be done is great and God is using His church from all corners of the world to participate.

I now live full time in Austin, Texas and I continue to work at Mission of Hope: Haiti. I am working at the stateside MOH office & I travel to Haiti regularly. I have the privilege of working with our partner organizations in the rebuilding & restoration of homes throughout the Southern region of Haiti.

In December, I had the opportunity to travel back to the South & serve alongside one of our construction teams roofing homes in the village of BonBon. We partner with Haiti Bible Mission, a wonderful organization in Jeremie who is living the difference in their community. We were able to see the rebuilding in the community of BonBon first hand. I’ll post a separate entry with more photos from that trip, but below is a glimpse at the restoration that God graciously allowed us to witness. day 2 HBM construction 12.2016 HQ-0673.jpgday 3 HBM construction 12.2016 HQ-1459.jpgThe below three photos are of Madame Odette’s home during the re-roofing process. Photo two, where she stands beaming in front of her home as her roof was being constructed, is a photo that summarizes the community of BonBon as the rebuilding takes place. Strong. Beautiful. Joyful. Unshakeable. Radiant.day-1-madame-odette-houseday 2 HBM construction 12.2016 HQ-0879.jpgday 3 HBM construction 12.2016 HQ-1491.jpg


Friends, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for creating space, praying, processing, & listening through this season. Fall of 2016 brought things none of us expected & that none of us would have asked for, but I choose to remain confident that God is good & doing good.

Fall 2015.

Fall in Haiti is one of my favorite seasons. It’s filled with a bit of a slower pace, THANKSGIVING, & many other great things.

Enjoy some photos from this month! (captions below)

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Constant & I matched one morning. When she saw, she said “we have to take a photo!”

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Friends! Of course, Britney is the one doing the handstand. 🙂

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Reuben (Tex) went back to the states after serving at MOH for close to three years. Above is our staff praying over him before he left. Reuben, you sure are loved!

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Jude apparently took a selfie during church one Sunday. 🙂

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Some Saturday mornings look like the above photo. The struggle.

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Pretty light sweeping across the tree tops.

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This photo is of Marie France (our Guesthouse Manager) & her husband Bincent (a MOH driver) getting a final sonogram before their baby is born. This was also their first time to hear the baby’s heartbeat! They were told the entire pregnancy that the baby is a little boy, but this sonogram showed that it’s a little girl! The other really cool part of this story is that the sonogram technician, Kevin, is a friend of mind from my home church in Texas. It was really neat to get to watch worlds collide here in Haiti. On Friday, Nov. 20, Marie France had her beautiful baby girl “Benchelle”! Mama & baby are happy & healthy. Below is sweet Benchelle.

Benchelle

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We had a huge celebration service the Sunday before Thanksgiving with close to 200 guests that were serving with us for the week. It was incredible to see how many people gave up their traditions & selflessly served!

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I’m so proud of these 2 guys! Jean Marc (left) & Guetchine (right) shared their stories at the celebrations service & did a great job! It’s been encouraging to watch them grow as leaders, speakers, & advocates for the people of Haiti. They have experienced life transformation & desire the same for others!

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Thanksgiving morning sunrise – the best way to start the day!

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Justine made the most delicious & adorable sugar cookies that looked like a slice of pumpkin pie!

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Thanksgiving Day – time to wear boots & pretend it’s “fall” 😉

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The beautiful kitchen ladies that prepared a Turkey & mashed potato dinner for all of our guests! They received a standing ovation – the people were so grateful for their hard work.

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Frankline decorating the Thanksgiving desserts.

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Dreary overcast days are rare here…& I LOVE them.

Happy Fall, friends!

not an average wednesday.

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Sometimes, my job is logistics, office work, email, & google docs. Other times, I find myself in a rural village holding my friend’s BRAND NEW BABY GIRL that she had that morning, hours before.

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I was in the area shooting video footage & decided to stop by & say hi to her family…totally not expecting for her to have had this sweet little girl hours before. What a joy to hold this little one for a few moments & to pray for her, her mama, & family. Processed with VSCOcam with m6 preset

I watched as the family members gathered around, looking at this baby girl. I watched grandma in the corner prepare a bucket of water to wash sheets & blankets that were used in the delivery. I also watched her delegate work & take care of the other little ones running around. I stood there, sweating in this home knowing that this little girl’s life mattered. I held her & looked at her tiny fingernails & her little lips & I know she is created in the image of God.

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But honestly, for a split second, I start to panic. I know there will probably be days where she doesn’t know where her next meal is going to come from or when she will get it. I know there will be days where she doesn’t have what she feels she needs. What is this little one’s hope? This little baby, hours old, out here is this rural village in Haiti, how will she handle the daily difficulties? And what about all the other kids, as there are many just like her.

And like the Lord softly whispers, “I see her. I see them. I see you.”

Tears welled up in my eyes as I began dwelling on the deep truth that I know this little one is seen by her Creator. Jen Hatmaker’s words from her book, For the Love, sums up my feelings beautifully:

If it isn’t also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn’t true. … Theology is either true everywhere or it isn’t true anywhere. This helps us untangle us from the American God Narrative and sets God free to be God instead of the My-God-in-a-Pocket I carried for so long. It lends restraint when declaring what God does or does not think, because sometimes my portrayal of God’s ways sounds suspiciously like the American Dream and I had better check myself. Because of the Haitian single mom. Maybe I should speak less for God.

The Gospel is the Gospel. The cross means the exact same thing for me as it does for my single Haitian mama friends. Jesus redefines absolutely everything & he is in the business of redemption. He is full of grace and truth. Friend & reader, God sees you. He is for you & he so very much wants to have a relationship with you. If you read about Jesus & are not buying it, I challenge you to start with the book of John & study who Jesus is. Ask questions. He is better than anything I could imagine & has radically transformed my mind, heart, & life. He is faithful & trustworthy.

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Below are some screenshots from some of the video footage I captured. Life in a tent is incredibly difficult, but there is a joy that cannot be stolen.

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Summer Interns 2015

This summer, we had 35 incredible interns serving at MOH. These leaders grew, studied, prayed, laughed, built, painted, evangelized, discipled, and so much more. They ran hard & I truly believe the impact they had on people will last for generations & generations.

Below are some photos from our summer celebration party with our interns & our ti interns “junior interns”. Ti interns are young adults from our orphanage who were intentionally paired up with an intern for the summer. I have been so blessed to see the way these interns wonderfully filled the role of mentor, leader, & friend to these young adults. The Orphanage staff did an incredible job pioneering this program, & the growth & relationships that we’ve seen from it have been deeply encouraging.

Enjoy some photos from game night. It was a blast! The theme was “Boys vs. Girls” & the girls won! 🙂

Intern-Ti Intern Party-1 Intern-Ti Intern Party-2 Intern-Ti Intern Party-3 Intern-Ti Intern Party-4 Intern-Ti Intern Party-5 Intern-Ti Intern Party-6 Intern-Ti Intern Party-7 Intern-Ti Intern Party-8 Intern-Ti Intern Party-9below: a progression of the popular “alka seltzer in soda” game. absolutely hilarious. Intern-Ti Intern Party-10 Intern-Ti Intern Party-11 Intern-Ti Intern Party-12 Intern-Ti Intern Party-13 Intern-Ti Intern Party-14 Intern-Ti Intern Party-15 Intern-Ti Intern Party-16 Intern-Ti Intern Party-17  Intern-Ti Intern Party-19soda relays Intern-Ti Intern Party-20“sassy walk” competition Intern-Ti Intern Party-21dance off! Intern-Ti Intern Party-22boys lose = pies in the face! Intern-Ti Intern Party-23 Intern-Ti Intern Party-24 Intern-Ti Intern Party-28 Intern-Ti Intern Party-29 Intern-Ti Intern Party-30 Intern-Ti Intern Party-31

What fun memories with this incredible group of people! On their very last night, we had a huge ice cream party & it was awesome. Summer 2015 interns, you are all cherished & loved. Thank you for serving, loving, & laughing a lot! You have all made an eternal impact & represented Jesus well.

Ice Cream Party

 

VIDEO: Thank You & A Few Highlights

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
This is glimpse at life on the ground here in Haiti at Mission of Hope and the beautiful things the Lord is doing. I’m honored to be a small part of it. This video serves as a “Thank You” to those who have supported me, and also to focus on a few key things happening here to show future supporters the vision, mission, & growth at Mission of Hope. “As an organization following Jesus Christ, we exist and seek to bring Life Transformation to every man, woman, and child in Haiti.” Thanks for watching! (for high quality, click the settings wheel at the bottom right and select 720p)

You can either comment on my posts on this blog, or email me at racheldurban (at) yahoo (dot) com. If you are interested in financially supporting me, click HERE for the link to the MOH missionary support website and then you can select my name from the drop down menu. If you are interested in becoming a monthly supporter, that option is available on the website as well.

Comma Moments.

Google defines a comma as: “a punctuation mark (,) indicating a pause between parts of a sentence or separating items in a list.”

This has been a week of comma moments for me. Let me try to explain…

Sometimes, being in the whirlwind of day-to-day life here, it is easy to gloss over the incredible God moments that happen every.single.day. This was a week that I felt that the Lord has intentionally placed “comma moments” in my life that made me pause. This was a week of doing things outside of my normal routine here in Haiti.

I stayed at the Bercy campus with a team, and woke up early to make coffee…waking up early meant that I got to watch the sunrise over the mountains. I had no internet, so I didn’t wake up and immediately check email, instagram, facebook, etc.

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That sunrise? Let me tell you…It reminded me that I serve THE God who goes before me, who is good, who does good, who is sovereign, faithful, beautiful, just, generous, loving, & creative. Comma moment.

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I got to see people meet the kids that they sponsor. I got to watch as these young Haitian students made the connection that these North Americans believe in them, their Christ-centered education, and their ability to fulfill their dreams. Comma moment.

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I spent Saturday in Bercy with the team for Village Time: evangelism, prayer, and inviting people and their kids to a Kid’s Club taking place that afternoon. After lunch we went to the Kid’s Club. The beautiful thing about this Kid’s Club? It was 100% planned by the Village Champions – who are young men (& women in other villages) in Bercy who are passionate about seeing their village hear and see the Gospel, and personally know Jesus. These men planned this club, found the location & set up the event, practiced the songs, budgeted for food/snacks, and led the entire thing. I sat in the back with my camera in my hand and tears in my eyes at seeing these men so passionate about the Gospel and taking the call of being a disciple of Jesus seriously. They invited Matt & Amanda to see what they had put together. Matt works with each of the Village Champions in the surrounding villages for Church Advancement and Amanda is their English teacher. They were like proud parents, watching the men they work so closely with really take ownership of this afternoon club. This is what is is all about. Making disciples who make disciples. This is what Jesus calls us to, and it is happening right before my very eyes. Comma moment.

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The Bercy Village Champions with Matt & Amanda:

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Atthis, so happy it was a success!

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Matensly & I 🙂 This is Atthis’ son! He’s such a little stud, and he knows it.

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Don’t skip the comma moments.

They are important, they teach us to recognize the writer of this beautiful story of redemption, Jesus.

They lead us to the Father’s heart.

Oh, how grateful I am for these commas.

Selah.

 

*In case you’re new to the blog, you can read more about what I’m doing at Mission of Hope: Haiti in THIS post or checkout the website HERE.

BIG NEWS!

Hey friends, I have big news to share!

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I have officially accepted the position of “Logistics Coordinator” at Mission of Hope: Haiti! This means I am moving to Haiti at the end of this month (September 28th to be exact) for 12 months. I am overwhelmed with gratitude, amazed at this opportunity, and excited to serve the people of Haiti through this organization that I love and support.

If you’ve been a reader here for a while, you probably have seen something on the blog about Haiti – either the 2 short term mission trips I went on in 2011, or the 3 month summer internship in 2012. Each time I have traveled to Haiti it has been through MOH, and I am honored to be on staff now. (You can see a recap of my summer in Haiti HERE).

If you are new to the blog, here is a quick summary: Mission of Hope’s vision is:
“As an organization following Jesus Christ, we seek to bring life transformation to every man, woman, and child in Haiti.”
This vision is reached through multiple methods including Church Advancement, Christ Centered Education, Nutrition/Feeding Program, Heath Care, and Orphan Care.

My role as Logistics Coordinator is to intentionally mobilize mission teams to serve the Haitians and to share the Gospel in the most effective and influential way possible. The Mobilization team works closely with Church Advancement to send teams into the villages and to partner with local churches and communities so that life transformation is happening through the Church and God is receiving all of the glory.

I get so excited about this, y’all. I look back on the amazing church (Grace Fellowship) I have been on staff at for almost 8 years (WOW!) and see how the Lord has been preparing and equipping me for this transition. I have been surrounded by people who encourage me to pursue Christ and follow Him seriously. People have modeled what a life devoted to Jesus looks like and have mentored me and walked through pivotal moments of life with me. I have experienced  spiritual growth and a deeper understanding of the GRACE & TRUTH of Jesus Christ; my passion to share this Truth was cultivated at GFC. Looking at the staff (who is more like family) at GFC brings me so much joy. Thankful doesn’t even begin to describe the way I feel to have been a part of that church family, and they will be the place I call my church home. What a great place to grow up! 🙂

Transitioning over to Mission of Hope is a dream come true, and I could go on and on about how excited I am about this new season of life, but I’ll refrain from writing a novel. Here is what I do know: this season of life is not about a great travel adventure or landing a dream job – but rather building Christ’s Kingdom in the ways He has provided and equipped me to do.
It is the same for you – do what you can with what you have and where you are. Look around you, God has planted you where are for such a time as this. Be intentional in your conversations, your time, your friendships…always looking for God glorifying ways to live. I am FAR from understanding the way this looks day in and day out, but I am learning…slowly but surely, I am learning.

If you’ve read this far, congratulations. I haven’t written this much in a while. 🙂 From the bottom of my heart, thank you for caring. Thank you for supporting. Thank you for reading. Thank you for praying.

I will continue to blog throughout my time in Haiti, and would love to hear from you. You can either comment on my posts on this blog, or email me at racheldurban (at) yahoo (dot) com. If you are interested in financially supporting me, click HERE for the link to the MOH missionary support website and then you can select my name from the drop down menu. If you are interested in becoming a monthly supporter, that option is available on the website as well. I would be happy to explain more if you have questions – feel free to send me an email!

You are loved,
Rachel