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.

Summer 2014


“VBS. VBS.” • Vacation Bible School

6,576 children attended VBS in 6 weeks.

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22,717 hot meals were served.

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912 children accepted Christ through VBS.

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I’m so very proud of our Haitian & North American staff, as well as all of the teams that worked incredibly hard to provide an environment where these precious kids could learn about Jesus & His love for them. What a great part of summer!


This story – You’ll want to read this.

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photo by: Amanda Johnson

Sweet reader, my dear friend (& fellow MOH staff member) Amanda wrote a beautiful post about a little girl named Mydaline. Click here to read it.

L I F E   T R A N S F O R M A T I O N.


Village of Hope Soccer Games

They’re so fun to watch! And if they’re not playing soccer, they’re cheering & dancing along the sidelines.

J O Y.

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This 2014 Summer was wonderful, beautiful, organized chaos.

More stories will be shared.

 

Bye for now, Zanmi’m.

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.

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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!

#itsnotaproblem

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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.**

Monumental Moment.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

“Home” from Haiti.

sweet Debuston cheesin’

This blog post is different from all of my other ones.

I am back in the states.

I am missing the beautiful friends that I’ve made in Haiti, and I spend many moments wishing I was still there.

I know the Lord is sovereign and the Lord is absolutely working in Haiti, and I am so thankful that I was able to see His redemptive plan for Haiti up close and personal. In short, I was able to work for Mission of Hope, an organization dedicated to following Jesus Christ in their efforts to bringing life transformation to every man, woman, and child in Haiti (MOH Vision). All the way from education, health care, prosthetics, housing projects, feeding programs, church advancement, and-the-list-goes-on – I have been able to SEE how Jesus Christ is changing this nation for the glory of His Kingdom, and using ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.

I can honestly say that these were some of the best 3 months of my life.

I have gained so many new friends, both Haitian and North American. We have worshipped our Savior together, and shared His Gospel.

I have seen life change happen in front of my eyes. I have experienced what it is like to be welcomed into a family in a culture totally different from my own.

I have seen people sacrifice for others. I have sat in meetings with leaders of Mission of Hope and prayed with them; I have seen their true love for the Lord and for reaching Haiti for Christ.

I have seen tarantulas, rats, and mice – and managed not to freak out…too much 😉

I have laughed, cried, and been exhausted all in a day – but it’s never felt so wonderful. I have seen the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

I have never seen more beautiful smiles from people.

I have tasted the most delicious mangos, pineapples, & avocados. I have developed a love for fried plantains. (Now, I just need to learn how to cook them!)

I have picked up a *little* bit of Creole 🙂 (my family thinks it’s more than it actually is…ha!)

Sometimes, I sit back and wonder WHY the Lord has allowed me to have this beautiful life. I am truly thankful.

You may be wondering “what next?” Honestly, I am wondering the exact same thing. I know the Lord is continuing to do amazing things in Haiti, and I am encouraged by the way Mission of Hope is so willing and dependent for the Lord to continue to work through them. I fully support MOH and the way they approach “missions.”

With that, I believe that I am given a responsibility to steward the experiences I have been given well. I have seen things first hand, and now there is a response. There is a response of either helping, or neglecting. There is no gray area.

I believe the most important tool I have as a Christ follower is prayer. Prayer is powerful, y’all.

  • Please continue to pray for Mission of Hope and their areas of influence – that the Lord would be made known, and that people would accept Him as their Lord and Savior.
    • Please pray for the staff of MOH – that they would be continually reminded of the beauty of the cross, and the work that they are doing in sharing the Gospel; their work is not in vain.
    • Please pray for the young men and women working as church reps/translators for Mission of Hope – that they would continue to preach the Gospel with boldness and urgency.
  • Please pray for other organizations reaching Haiti for Christ – that they would continue to follow the Lord faithfully and be obedient to His leading.
  • Please pray for families and children in Haiti – that they would trust, know, and grow in the Lord. That the children would be raised in a home surrendered to Jesus Christ, and they would grow to be leaders that lead the nation to Christ.

In addition to prayer, if you are able to support MOH financially, here is the link for the donations page of the website: CLICK HERE

For now I am “home” – and I am thanking God for this upcoming season of my life of finishing college and trusting Him for what is next. Thank you for praying/supporting/encouraging me through this journey!

Love to you all.

Haiti: time flies when you’re having fun

Things have been so busy, and it’s such a great thing!

Until I have a chance to sit down and write things out, I’m going to show you some pictures of the past couple of weeks!

Tiffany, myself, Tim, Kristen, & Andrew // tour time!

Kristen, Tiffany, and I – these 2 ladies are amazing.

EBill/Eliza”boss”/Eleesabethhhh

Elizabeth is the Mission Trips Director, and she is the boss of all of us interns. I’ve been training with her because she leaves for vacation for 3 weeks in the states, and I’m working on the logistics side of things while she’s gone! She is great, y’all. Side note: people get us confused in the villages a lot. I am called “Elizabeth” OFTEN. ha!

Weekly soccer game at Leveque

Andel, Cahyleen, and I. love these kiddos!

My friend Tim, and all of his friends! Everyone loves Tim!

Kristen & Lovelee – sweet friends!

The other night, we had another “intern outing” out in Minoterie at Villarson’s family restaurant. Villarson is one of our translator’s here at Mission of Hope, and his mom is an awesome cook.

So many great friends!

delicious. so very delicious.

I cherish these ladies! Bible study at 6am is a precious time!

However, this picture seems to be more accurate of us. ha!

Hannah & Missy – beautiful mother and daughter – inside & out!

Papitas, myself, & Villarson – 2 MOH translators, and awesome friends!

Andrew with his signature dance move!

Elizabeth & I

Carvona & Tiffany have some mad hops!

Rachael & Rachel – She is one of the sweet women on staff at MOH! I love dinner dates and mentor meetings with her each Wednesday.

Bailey & I. Sweet Bailey! This girl. We are soul sisters.

It is crazy to realize that it’s already been 10 weeks here! WOW. Time flies when you’re having fun.