T H A N K S G I V I N G.

Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays. I LOVE Christmas, but I find that Thanksgiving is the necessary “reset” in my heart & mind to truly prepare me for Christmas.

The heart of being thankful is something I desire to define my life 12 months out of the year. However, in all honesty, I’m thankful for the cultural reminders & the “reset.”

This year, Thanksgiving day started with a worship service down at the Church of Hope with over 1,000 people! The church was FILLED with MOH employees, school children, & North American team members. What a perfect start to the day!

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Each year, we celebrate Thanksgiving “traditionally” as a staff family! I’m talking the whole spread: a turkey, all the delicious sides, & dessert. It’s always a favorite evening of mine! Full table, loads of laughter, & delicious food.

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Love these people, this place, & this holiday!

Staff Family ThanksgivingAmanda, Rach, EB-1

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.

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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!

thankful for this staff family.

It’s far too often that I find myself caught up in the busy-ness of life, & another week slips by. And you know what? I’m over it. I’m over time slipping by right before me.

I don’t want to look back & see that I’ve lived years in Haiti & I forgot to document life in this unique season right here & right now.

I wanted to take a moment to highlight each member of this Haiti staff family. I don’t want to forget the beautiful melting pot that is the staff family in this season. We’ll never have the Fall of 2015 again, & I’m grateful the Lord has compiled these incredible people here for such a time as this.

Description is below each photo:

Bernards

Kenol & Rachel: When I think of this power couple, the one word that comes to my mind is faithful. They have a beautiful family, the BEST smiles I’ve ever seen, & they work each day to faithfully follow the path God has set before them. They are leaders.

EB

Elizabeth: EB is a total #GirlBoss. (if you don’t know what that means, it’s essentially saying she’s an inspiring leader). She was my boss when I interned back in 2012, & she’s since become a dear friend. She is a strong leader with a humble heart & a sincere love for Jesus. Give her a guitar? You’ve found yourself in the middle of a worship session. She’s one of my favorite worship leaders because she makes it ALL about Jesus. Google Docs has got nothing on her. Her mind is sharp & her talents are many.

Katie

Katie: Katie is a warrior. First, she’s a prayer warrior. There is no doubt in my mind that when Katie says she will pray for you – she will. She reminds me not to put God in a box. Her love for the Lord radiates. Her heart for the 60+ Orphanage Kids she’s “mom” to is one of the first things you’ll notice when you meet her. She shines!

Johnsons

Matt & Amanda: Both Matt & Amanda are two ridiculously creative friends. Amanda – with a brush & paper, a camera, & words. Matt – with a guitar & the ability to write a sermon that is relatable & theologically sound. They enjoy good coffee & will make it for their neighbor (cough, me) often. They are hospitable & gracious. They are the best parents to be & I can’t wait until baby J comes into the world Spring 2016! They’re always up for an adventure, or watching The Office…both are equally valuable. They make marriage look fun!

Kelci

Kelci: I’ve known Kelci since 2012, & I have loved to watch her grow. She is brilliant, y’all. She’s also hilariously witty & strong. She pours herself out for the least of these, & has an endurance that is clearly God-given. She handles difficult situations with prayer & grace. I’ve watched many people’s lives transform because of her faithfulness.

Britney

Britney: Britney reminds me to never take life too seriously. She busts out into random dance moves, twirls, & laughter daily. She is FUN. She has a deep joy that comes from a vibrant relationship with Jesus. She knows her purpose & she walks confidently in it.

Haley

Haley: Haley connects with everyone. She is relatable & kind, while also hilarious. She says one liners that will have you cracking up. She also has a way of articulating what the Lord has taught her in a relatable & sincere way. She is more talented than she would admit, & she’s filled with grace & Truth.

Courtney

Courtney: Courtney is a Godsend. She reminds me of Jesus & has such a gentle spirt about her. When I’m around her, I am always encouraged & more aware of Jesus. She is one who lifts people up. Kindness radiates from her. She also has a beautiful singing voice but she would never tell you that.

Carrie

Carrie: Carrie is a constant. She is gentle & calm, even in the midst of what others would call chaos. She is joyful, intentional, & a breath of fresh air. I often find myself thinking Carrie has been here for longer than she has because she just fits so well. I admire this woman!

  Holly

Holly: Holly is amazing with children. She is also so incredibly artistic & talented. When she makes pottery, she is in her happy place. Her creativity & kind spirit are qualities that I admire. She’s also really patient with kids…which I also admire. 😉

Justine

Justine: FUN. Justine walks in & she can own a room with her charisma, while she also can sit in the corner with a woman & talk about life. She has a way of finding joy in the ordinary moments of life. She loves to celebrate & she makes the best cupcakes.

Chris

Chris: Chris is one of the few men on staff, & I’m thankful for his presence. He’s a calm in the midst of medical situations, & he handles difficult situations with strength, sensitivity, & wisdom. He has grown so much in the time he’s been here & I admire him!

Reuben

Reuben: He loves Texas & bacon, but most of all he loves the Lord. He’s a hard worker with a unique fashion sense, & he always knows how to make someone laugh. He speaks fluent Creole & has a way of making you feel like family, even if he just met you.

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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glimpses of the past few months

Here are a few glimpses from the past few months of life & ministry in Haiti.

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Not a bad view.

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What a beautiful sight! I got to watch my friend Courtney sign for a sweet woman while her & her group watched the MOH Vision Video. Multiple times I was brought to tears as I was able to see the vision of life transformation through Jesus Christ clearly articulated in a way that specifically resonated with this woman.

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Chipotle in Haiti! It’s good to have connections on the outside (AKA Matt & Amanda) who got this to me all the way from Florida. Dream!

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Proud mama holding her beautiful 2-day-old baby at a recent Mobile Clinic.

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A recent restful day off filled with watercolors, yoga, & face-timing with friends. The earth is the Lord’s & everything in it. Psalm 24:1.

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“Let’s take a crazy photo, & then you can put it on Instagram.” – Jean Marc.

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Thankful for these sweet intern ladies that are full of laughter, love, & hard work! Girl’s Day was a success! Fortenak even joined in on a Girl’s Day photo!

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Tastes & colors of Haiti.

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Happy Birthday, Steeve!

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Baby Jorshky. Filled with smiles, flirting, & cheeks for days.

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Really love this family!

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glorious.

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The aftermath of an Easter egg hunt with 62 of the coolest kids.

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Day off at the beach!

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Madame Michel & I were matching with our braids! Love this sweet lady & the joy she brings to the office.

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morning necessities:

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Hanging gardens all along the streets of Port Au Prince.

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Grins, giggles, & smirks. These kids have got ’em all & I love it.

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A farmer in the field in Turpin.

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Those smiles & that light. Radiant.

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Little boys flirting with the little girls through the school house window. These boys have got game.

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Waterfall love.

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One evening, I walked outside of the kitchen to see 2 of our drivers talking, swinging, & laughing on the school playground. May your days be filled with finding joy in the little things.

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Someone brought strawberries & dipping chocolate! Bless. Their. Hearts.

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Holding beautiful baby Lidjina (my friend Constant’s new baby girl)!

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Amanda & Mydaline chatting in the prosthetics lab while Mydaline’s leg was being finished.

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laughter & pull-ups.

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Walkin’ hand in hand. Grace filled moments like these are something I never want to take for granted.

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Debus found a great hiding spot.

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My friendship with the sweet Tiffany started here in Haiti in 2012 when we were both interns, & it was so encouraging to hang with her again for a week in Haiti this spring. From laughing at my ridiculous jokes, to coming over for coffee at 6am, to bringing Trader Joe’s treats, & praying over me at the perfect moment, this dear friend is intentional. So grateful for you, Tiff. Thanks for loving & encouraging well. You radiate joy & Jesus! Love you!

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Sunday strollin’ in Leveque.

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What a beautiful gift this life is.

Surprise: Happy Birthday, Mr. Marc!

Monday, April 20, I had one of my favorite Haiti mornings. Sunday, April 19, was Mr. Marc’s Birthday. Mr. Marc is our Haitian Executive Director (AKA: total boss) & Monday morning we had a surprise party for him in the office! Marana, Mr. Marc’s lovely assistant, had been planning it all weekend & getting everything ready. I got to the office Monday morning & everyone was buzzing around in hushed tones so Mr. Marc wouldn’t know what was going on. I walked into the cafeteria to find tons of “Happy Birthday” balloons & beautiful pastries & cakes on the table. We were ready for this party! Marana then told me that I was given the task of tricking Mr. Marc to come into the cafeteria “because there was a problem & I needed his help.” Mr. Wantously ran up to me full of laughter & high-fives & like an excited kid said, “YOU have the job of getting him into the cafeteria!”

I felt the pressure. “Don’t mess this up, Durban,” I thought to myself.

I lightly knocked on Mr. Marc’s door, while everyone else (except 2 “decoy” employees) ran to the cafeteria to hide.

“Good morning Mr. Marc,” I said as I walked in.
Mr. Marc greeted me, “Oh, good morning Rachelle (read, “Rah-shell”). Thank you so much for calling me yesterday & telling me Happy Birthday.”
“You are welcome, Mr. Marc! I know I usually call you when there is a problem, so I was prepared for you to think that something was wrong when I called you yesterday.”
Mr. Marc laughed & we chatted a little bit more.

It was time to get this man to his party, so I said, “Mr. Marc, you know how over the weekend, a lot of the problems sleep? No one wants to create problems over the weekend. Well, as you know, it is Monday & all of the problems are back & I really need your help. Do you mind coming outside with me?”
Mr. Marc jumped up & said, “There are a lot of problems outside?”
And here, my friends, I lied. I lied to that sweet man. I said, “Yes. There are a lot of problems & people outside & I really need your help.”

So, like the total boss he is, he jumped up & began to speed-walk outside. We were right outside the cafeteria & he started to leave the building & I said, “Actually, can you come in here before you go outside?” That was my brilliant response to him trying to exit the building…”uhhh, come to the cafeteria.” Ha! But it worked. Thankfully Mr. Marc walked into the cafeteria & he saw the entire office crammed into that little space, & he just started laughing! He then told them all about how I told him there were a lot of people & problems outside, & then to go into the cafeteria.

After the laughter died down, Mr. Marc thanked everyone & spoke about how honored he was to be celebrating his 73rd Birthday & that it is a blessing to live that many years & to be able to work hard.

Then, Mr. Lookens, Mr. Wantously, & Mr. Peniel gave speeches & they asked if anyone else had anything to say. There was a lot of Creole & I kept hearing “Rachelle” & then it was silent with everyone looking at me. Mr. Lookens said, “Rachelle, I think you have something to say.” I warned them that I would cry, even though that is not a very common response in Haiti & they gave me a napkin & said “no problem!” I spoke about how much I respect Mr. Marc & how much I have learned about leadership from Him & the deep love he has for the Lord & for the people of Haiti. Austin (another North American staff member) spoke about how Mr. Marc is like a father to so many people in Haiti, & how he is an incredible leader. The mark of a leader is the ability to duplicate oneself, & Mr. Marc has done a wonderful job leading up others & teaching them. Pastor Kenol prayed, & then it was time for cake!

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It had all the ingredients of a perfect Haitian party: Speeches were given, laughs were had, tears were shed, songs were sang, cake was eaten, & prayers were prayed.

I am thankful to call these people family. I am thankful for Mr. Marc & his leadership. He is a role model in his love for the Lord & his love for the people of Haiti. Happy Birthday Mr. Marc! Here’s to many, many more!

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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