Wednesday, January 30, 2013

encouragement amid the chaos


Quote of the week: Miss Lauren, your hair is so pretty, it’s yellow, like your skin. 

Things I miss: El Som & getting mail. 

So much has happened in the past few days that I’m not sure the best way to sum all of it up in the most readable way. Saturday, we had a birth parent meeting at the orphanage. This is a time when birth mothers, fathers, aunts, siblings, (whoever is around) can come to visit with their child. This was a really hard day for me. I did what I was supposed to do, but inside I was really struggling. These parents, many who simply cannot afford adequate care for their child, come for one day every few months to see how their child is doing. The parents meet with a few staff members and then we bring the children out in groups to visit with their families. Some of the children have 3 siblings come to see them, and some never have a family member come visit. Some of the kids were excited, some didn’t want to be there at all. Some were totally fine after the visit, some were in bad moods for hours after. And as for the kids in the backyard whose parents didn’t come- I brought out string & made bracelets with the ones who wanted to talk. Some wanted to be alone, and some acted like they didn’t care what was going on. I know that these visits are good for the kids- to see that their parents still love them and want the best thing for them, even if that is not being with them. But I also saw the hurt that this whole situation brings. It’s not that the day was bad, but in that day I was able to see so many aspects of the realities of poverty, grace, hurt, help, letting go, closure and love expressed in many different ways. For the birth parents, sometimes love looks like bringing their child to Maison. That’s not every child’s story here, but it’s a lot of them. For the adoptive families, love looks like bringing a child into their family as their own. It’s such a different act of love, and it’s hard to grasp an understanding of it all. 

Monday I went with Angie to the hospital with a sick baby. I had never been to a Haitian hospital. It was an eye opening experience for sure. The children’s ward of this hospital was destroyed in the earthquake, so they moved into a group of buildings with concrete floors & a few windows here & there. It was 90 something degrees in there, and the baby we were with had a fever of about 105 degrees. So, trying to cool her down while waiting to be admitted and then waiting on the nurse to see her was a challenge. In the bed next to us was a boy gasping for breath in between his cries. There is 1 tank of oxygen for about every 10 beds. The nurses check on the kids & give the prescription to the parent. You better have another adult there too to stay with the child because you have to go down the street to pick up the meds from the pharmacy and bring them back to the nurse. As a caregiver you will feed, water, change diapers, bring sheets, towels, anything you’ll need for the bed, and hopefully find a chair to sit in beside your kid’s bed. And if your child is there for a long period of time, don’t worry- there’s a hose in the back you can use for water to bathe. If your child needs a blood transfusion, you will leave and round up about 4 people & pay them to donate blood for your child. And if you don’t have the money to start the file in the first place, don’t even bother showing up. That’s just a glimpse of what the healthcare system is like here. 

While we were there, Angie actually got to meet a girl she had been in contact with previously, who is working with her own ministry helping street boys through a safe house. Three white women in one hospital section is a lot- everyone was commenting on it. Oh the humor and reality of community, connections and friendship. This sweet girl was there with one of her boys who was really sick. She had traveled about 6 hours to this hospital, probably slept in the same bed next to him, and spent all of her time and money taking care of his needs.  She had 1 dress, a pair of pants, and a toothbrush with her. This girl knows true sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom- to her it seemed like no big deal- “it’s not an option to leave here” she said. But to me she was a vision of what compassion really looks like. As we left the hospital and sat in traffic for 2 hours, I soaked in more of reality of poverty of the city and the helplessness that I often feel when I actually stop and think about the people I’m driving past. I went back to my guesthouse that usually has AC for half of the day. I went back to 3 meals a day, and internet that I get mad at when it doesn’t work for a day. But this girl, she’s just living the Gospel, investing in 1 child at a time, 1 day at a time, not concerned about what that looks like or things she might suffer because of it. And to me that’s encouraging. That’s what I remember when the realities of this city hit me hard- live the Gospel and the love of Christ one day at a time, with one person at a time, one moment at a time. It’s going to look different in every situation. But the need is the same- the hope of Christ. Shouldn’t we all be doing the same thing?

Another encouragement this week was a surprise visit from my friend Kerby. Kerby lives and goes to school in PaP and has traveled to La Source with our teams in the past to translate for us. I hadn’t seen him in 2 years, so when the security guard came asking if I knew someone by that name, I was so confused and excited. I ran to the gate as fast as my constricting knee length skirt would let me and did the typical Lauren jump up & down and “eeeekk!!!” when I saw him. He had seen us driving as he was walking home from the university. Kerby hadn’t known I was even in Port-au-Prince, but was brave enough to ask the guard at the gate if it was really me. Then our friend Donald called to say that he was coming by to see me too, so we all had a nice little reunion for the next hour. I met Donald my freshman year of college on a trip to La Source. He translated for us, we stayed at his dad’s hotel, he took me around the city on some random rented motorcycles, and we’ve been friends ever since. After a few weeks of continuing to feel settled here, but missing sweet friends and a strong sense of community, seeing these 2 guys made my day. I am so thankful for them and friendships with Bill & Lisa Adams that brought us all together. Can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for these guys and the crazy white girl that tags along with them. 
Peace & Blessings, yall, from PaP

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Baby Julner- the 14 month old miracle

I feel like I should start by saying that this story is not my story- these events started before I came to Maison, but ever since I met this child, I feel like this is a story that needs to be shared. One of the first few times I was in the baby room, I met a baby named Julner. He was crawling around like he owned the place, wanting to see everyone. Julner lights up the room. When he laughs you can see his 2 little bottom teeth. He is active and full of energy. He has the physical development of about an 8 month old, So when I looked at his crib at his birthday, I was surprised- this little guy is 14 months old. Curious, I asked about him. This is Baby Julner's story.

Baby Julner arrived at Maison in late August, suffering from illness and severe malnutrition. His parents had previously sought help for him, and he was hospitalized and then brought home. He again become very ill, and the family took him to the hospital again, but the hospital did not address his lack of weight gain or his illness. His parents were very concerned. They both love him and want the best for him, but did not know what to do. When he arrived at Maison, he weighed 7 lbs 4 oz- he was 9 months old. The night he arrived at Maison, he received life-saving fluids. He then went with one of the nannies, Mommy Mureille to the hospital. This is Baby Julner when he arrived at Maison:




Mommy Mureille stayed with Julner for over a month. At the end of September, Julner got to come back to Maison. Bless this sweet lady, who was by Julner's side at the hospital the whole time. Here's the 2 of them when he came back to Maison:


Over the next several months, Julner continued to grow and develop and has gained weight. To say that this boy is a fighter is an understatement. Interacting with Julner is one of the highlights of my day. He is crawling, investigating everything right now. Physically he is still catching up to his age, but he is continuing to grow and gain weight. Cognitively, he is not very far behind at all. This is a testament to the Lord's work at Maison- without life-saving fluids, a lengthy hospital stay, loving nannies, and financial support, this boy never would have had a chance. This is why Maison exists- to help children like Julner. To provide loving, supportive, lasting care for them. To bring them into a providing home, and to help them grow and develop until they are able to be adopted. This is the latest picture of Julner, happy as he can be at 14 months:


To God be the glory, great things He has done. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

bows & the Bachelor- who is she??


Questions of the week: How old is your brother? and When is your boyfriend coming to visit? (neither of whom exist).

Things I miss this week: Snooky's breakfast (still served at RJ's- go get you some), & hot                                           shower water. 


As 1 of my best friends, Gracie always says, "keep calm & put your pearls on." Yall should follow her blog too, at Southern Sass with Class. Together we like to remind the world to "keep it classy, keep it sassy." This week has been crazy busy but awesome. Every day is different. Now I don't have pearls here to put on, so if I start to get overwhelmed I usually just go hold a baby and everything ends up alright. The longer I'm here, the more comfortable I am. My best friend right now is a 9 year old boy. He helps me learn Creole and I help him with his spelling. I'm sure I'll have more stories about him soon. I've had a cough for all of this week, which is super annoying, because I'm not sick, it's just the weather- it's so dry and dusty. You know how when it's super foggy, if you are driving and turn on your brights you can't see? Well that's how it is right now with the dust. So, until the dust goes away, here's to hacking up a lung. This week we celebrated as a set of twins went home with their forever family. It was so sweet- we had cake and gave a ton of hugs. I also got to meet some other adoptive parents this week, and get to know them a little bit. This helps me as I assess the child's development, because it gives me a good picture of where the child is headed after adoption, and talk to the parents a little bit about how I best relate to their child. And it's just fun to meet more Americans, who doesn't want that? I also cleaned out 2 huge cabinets in order to find a mouse that has been terrorizing the office for way too long now. We think he finally died, and the cabinets are clean, so yes, this has been a successful week for the intern. 

So, gonna bring out my girly side for a little bit- I let Shugs use my eye shadow in the hotel and I accidentally left it with her. While this is not a huge deal and seems dumb to most of you, it really bothers me sometimes. On days where I feel particularly missionary-like and unflattering (because really, this whole tank top and Old Navy skirt thing gets old after a while) a girl just really needs her eye shadow. So instead, I pull my bangs back with a cute little bow. I know, Lollar is wearing bows and talking about eye shadow. But it works and makes me not miss eye shadow, so I'll keep wearing bows. Bows over bros baby. But really, because the only "bros" I have met are high school seniors that were here on a mission trip, and this girl is not on the cougar trail. So for now we'll stick to bows. 
I also caught up on The Bachelor this week- now before you judge- it's the only reality tv that I like and I didn't even care about the show until this summer when I watched it with ALL BOYS so there. But it's Sean and who doesn't want the best for him so of course I had to weigh in on the situation. And let me tell you, I have had so much fun discussing this show with some of my classmates in Statesboro. In case you're wondering, yes I do like Desiree, Sarah is nice but not gonna happen, Sean is way too smart for Tierra's bs, Kristy is all body and no personality, Kacie B is wise but at an unfair advantage, and Amanda creepy weird. So there's that, and now the girly rant is over. 

It's these light-hearted things that make the emotionally draining things easier. Sometimes when I sit with a child one-on-one, they will totally zone out. One child in particular just seemed to look right past me as I was talking to him. I sit there and wonder, "What is he remembering? What is he thinking about? What is he afraid of" And I have no answers to these questions. If I dwell on it long enough it really gets to me. But this week I have been sitting in class with the older kids, and watching them learn, recite things, and get to know them on a different level as I "grade"/help them with their spelling and math. It's these times, when I see their joy in learning and accomplishing something, or when I see a few of the babies just laugh at each other, that I know that things are good here. I know that the kids are learning, growing, developing, and experiencing things that they should. Not that life is always a walk in the park- the entire process of adoption takes an emotional toll- I know this just from papers and classes and research I've done myself. But it's so worth it, and that is what is motivating. I am confident that God has placed me here for His purpose, and as the days go by I am realizing that it may have less to do with what "I can bring to the table," and more about what He's doing in my heart. 


                                                                     Fun in the office!




                                   one of the sweet baby girls i love to hang out with




calendar hung in our room with dental floss



                                             so glad this quilt could come with me

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

a different kind of fight.

I have no problem standing up for people- it's one thing that has always seemed to come naturally to me. Last year, when a Haitian "friend" who came into our camp kept making girls feel uncomfortable by what he said and the way he looked at them, I lit into him and marched him right out outside the gate. No one messes with my high school girls. This year, when men who were getting paid to throw our luggage off the boat to the land were shoving team members out of the way, causing them to almost fall into the ocean, I let them have it. When the boat that Jesus himself probably sailed on is rocking in the waves and everyone is trying to keep their balance, why would you shove people out of the way? Everyone stared, and I didn't care. I still don't. No one is throwing my sister into the ocean. That would not end well for any of us. And they stopped. In those times, I was yelling, fighting for someone. But here I am at an orphanage, and I'm fighting here too. 

But this fight is different. It's a very different kind of fight. It's a lot more soft spoken. It's a gentle hug and a smile in the morning. It's holding a hand in the afternoon as we walk around the house to look at Joe the goat. It's "that's the most beautiful flower I've ever seen you draw!" and meaning every word. It's "you are safe, and it is okay to talk to me." It's singing a child to sleep because that's the first time they haven't been around other yelling children in a long, long time. It's sitting in silence, holding tight to a 2 year old, because he likes the sound of your breathing. Here it's not a loud fight, it's one of the most quiet fights I've ever fought. Someone has to tell them that they matter. Someone has to make them feel special. A lot of the kids at the orphanage I work at have already been matched with families. But in the years that it takes them to get to their forever homes, what is happening to them? They are learning English from great teachers, and being held, and being cared for, and making friends. But when you walk into a room of 15 toddlers and 2 nannies, it doesn't matter how much each nanny loves each child. And believe me, they love them well. They just don't have 15 arms. These children need to know that they are special, just like every child is special. And also that they are normal children. We want them to feel like they have normal childhoods. And so, one at a time, one minute at a time, we fight. We fight for them to have joy. We fight for them to have the best life they possibly can. We fight for them to meet their full potential. Sometimes that fight looks like changing a diaper. Sometimes that fight looks like taking an aluminum foil wrapper out of a kids mouth so that he doesn't choke right in front of me . Sometimes that fight looks like teaching a child how to color, and watching them create something that is their own. Sometimes that fight looks like a girl calling "yo Daddy" on the phone, because she can, and watching her take sheer delight in using all my precious international minutes. And sometimes that fight looks like celebrating with a cake as a set of twins go home with their forever family. This fight matters so much more than me yelling at some man because he isn't being respectful to my friends. This fight is about these children's future. Each fight is different, and each day of battle looks different too. Thanks to donations, that are always needed, these children receive 3 meals a day and round the clock healthcare. I don't mean that it's up to us to save these children's souls. God is large & in charge. But God has placed us here, and I believe he has me here to fight. To fight with the most love that I could ever have. To fight off the sadness, loss, depression, anger, bitterness and hurt that could easily consume these children and to bring in Light and life, and happiness and peace. To point them to the One who will supply all their needs. The One who alone can bring them true joy and take away their pain. All through Him and for Him. 





This is Daniel, coloring for the first time. 







Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."  Matthew 19:14








Monday, January 14, 2013

broken fish? no problem.



Things I miss this week: Pandora, ice cream.
Favorite questions of the week: What is Zaxby's? and Do Southern belles really exist? (both from Texans that I'm currently living with)

It's the beginning of my second week here in Haiti. I feel like I'm a lot more settled than the last time I blogged, just a few days ago. I spent the rest of the week assessing kids based on developmental milestones. The parents who received these reports were so thankful for them, and it motivates me that I am doing something worthwhile. Yesterday we went to church- it was the first time I had seen that many Americans at once in a few weeks, and it was refreshing to worship with them. For those of you who want to send me mail- I'm working on that, but the mail system here is pretty unreliable, so right now I don't have an answer for you. But, if you want to send me something, and believe me, I would love to hear from you! -my email is laurenegilpin@gmail.com or you can always Facebook message me. I have been so encouraged by those of you who are already keeping me updated on your lives, and knowing that y'all are praying for me and with me is great. 

The internet has been down for the past few days, so my free time has consisted of a lot of reading and thinking. I thought back to my recent trip to La Source. Oh, what a great trip it was. The last night as a team we stayed at Wahoo Bay, a beautiful resort outside of Port-au-Prince. There, vendors come to sell their creations. There are coral crosses, coffee bean necklaces, wooden carvings of elephants, turtles, trays, fish, and so much more. They have coconut necklaces, earrings, bracelets and belts, paintings, and tons of other stuff made by hand. Since I know a lot of these men and am familiar with the way they operate, my parents shopped for a while and then called me over so I could bargain with a vendor for them. I wanted to add a fish key chain to their collection of presents and trinkets. This key chain was very simple- a carved wooden fish and hand painted bright colors, with a keychain coming out of the fish's mouth. The fish I picked out was bright yellow with a beautiful design. It was the only one of its kind, but when I picked it up I realized that half of the tail fin was broken off. Now, knowing me, the tail fin would be broken within the first few months of use anyway, but that's not the point. So I named my price for the loot, and he said, "oh no, that is not nearly enough. See, this costs me blah blah blah and then this is blah blah blah.." and so on for all of it. When he got to the keychain, he says, "and this is $7." I said, "but look, it's broken." He replied, "no problem, $7." So I held up a brown fish keychain and said, "see, this one is normal, but the yellow one is broken." He looked at the brown fish, took the key chain part off of it and put it on the yellow fish. Then he held it up to me smiling and said, "no problem." I said, "No problem?? But it's still broken." He smiled and said, "no problem." So i held up the fish, pointed to the broken piece and said, "HOW is this not a problem?" I want to buy the fish, I just don't want to pay full price for it. It's not worth $7." He pointed to the key chain part of the fish, smiled and said, "no problem." Eventually, I got the keychain for about $3, but that's not the point. The point is that WE are broken fish. When someone points out sin in our lives, often we look at the outward appearance, and say, "oh I can fix that, no problem." So we beat an addiction. We join a Bible study. We do good things. But doing these things doesn't change the heart problem any more than putting a new keychain on that fish makes it grow a tail fin. Throwing on a skirt & Chacos and moving to a 3rd world country doesn't make me or my Christian walk any better than a wealthy CEO of the best company in New York. If my heart is sinful and I'm not allowing God to fix it, it's not "no problem." It's a HUGE problem. How often do we want to go on mission trips or help someone else because we want to feel good about ourselves, or become better people? So we throw on a new shirt, give our old one to a charity, and say, "no problem, I've got this." So often we miss out on the main issue- the issue of the heart. Yes, God has changed my heart to follow him. But this is a continual process- it's not just a one & done, "thanks Man, I've got it from here" change. It's a gradual, day by day, step by step process of sanctification- becoming more like Christ. We do this by recognizing our sin and not saying, "no problem," but saying, "thank you Lord that you have already forgiven me for this, and please keep making my heart more like Yours." Jesus didn't settle for half price for our broken selves- he paid the full $7. He saw us broken fish and said, "they're worth it." And if we truly, truly believe that, then as we change our key chains, our clothes, our lines of work, our attitudes, whatever it may be, we do it not because we are trying to cover up sin, but in response to God's grace and our repentance. Because Jesus, he's already paid for it, no problem. 

Peace & Blessings, y'all, from PaP

Thursday, January 10, 2013

a mouse in the house

I have been at the O for 3 full days now. I have held babies, sat in on the kids devotions, helped (somewhat) in kindergarden, talked through some of the kids struggles with Angie & Mary Claire, and try to figure out my place here. Part of why this is so hard for me is that I am an intern of Georgia Southern, and no matter what I want to do here or am needed to do, I still have to accomplish my weekly objectives as a Family Services major. You would think that would be easy- I'm working at an orphanage. But apparently making milestone checklists for the children's development and getting to know them well enough to communicate that information to their future adoptive parents is not pleasing my professors in my major. So, I'm learning how to tweak what I do enough to emphasize what GSU wants me to do here- and focus on the importance of this for the adoptive families, while still trying to accomplish something worthwhile at the O. I know, right? Yeah. So that's what's going on logistically.

Emotionally, I don't really know how to adequately describe that either. I haven't called my mom yet, because I know that I will cry. So Mama C, I'll eventually call you, but I'm not ready yet. How am I supposed to feel? I haven't had this HUGE wave of homesickness yet, but I know that it will come. I feel like in my free time I'm on Facebook, craving pictures of our week-trip to La Source this past week. When I'm at the house, we have a lot of fun. Angie's son, Jean Marc, keeps us all entertained. He is adorable. But still everything is new and takes some getting used to. All my meals are cooked for me, and so far my bed has been made every morning, but I don't have the freedom to just drive wherever I want, whenever I want. I can't call up a friend to go out to dinner, or head over to a friend's house just to hang out. It's weird and it's different, but I'm slowly getting used to it. When I'm in the O, sometimes I feel like a mouse. I say this because yesterday, the mouse that has been terrorizing the office decided to show his face. Everyone knew he existed, but it wasn't until we actually saw him that we ran around screaming, like we didn't know what to do with him. Unfortunately, the mouse still lives, but we WILL get him! And so, sometimes I feel like a mouse. When I show my face in the door of the baby room, everyone runs to me. If I pick up a child, the others cry. If I switch babies, the first one cries. And so it goes. If I was a nanny, I would never want me around! I distract the kindergardeners from their lessons, and I don't have the trust of the older girls yet for them to really talk to me. In the office I never really know what to do with myself- part of this is because I've been trying to figure out the child assessments and going back & forth between one-on-one time with a child and writing about it is constant. I'm new, so some of the staff, although very nice and polite, doesn't quite know what to do with me. So I feel like a mouse causing chaos. I say all of that to say, I know that God has placed me here. I felt strongly about that since I made the decision to come here. And I also know that everything I think and feel right now will eventually pass. But right now, I feel like a mouse. And I guess that's not a bad thing, because eventually it will get easier. As God reveals just what it is I am to be doing, I will feel more at peace and be more confident in what I am doing. That is my prayer for right now, and if you are praying for me, please let it be yours too. Peace & Blessings, from PaP.

Here's a video of our attempt to catch Mr. Mouse:

video


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

a glass case of emotion

This past week has been a complete whirlwind. My last blog update was about some of the difficulties that our team faced trying to get to La Source. Well, a change in numbers, an overnight in Miami, a flight and a 4 hour boat ride later, we were there. We set up camp in the dark. Trying to figure out stringing lights all around camp from a generator, setting up tents, chairs, and showers and unloading luggage in the dark was crazy. But the group never complained. In fact, we worked together very well. Thinking about the week before we left, I knew that this was going to be a great group. I just had no idea how awesome everyone would be until we were actually all together on the island.

Thursday and Friday, we did morning VBS. Lanette taught the kids some songs in sign language that they loved- you could tell because they continued to run around holding their thumb as the "light" from "This Little Light of Mine." One day we had guy time and girl time. The boys went outside to play soccer and do boy things while the girls sat down and made bracelets and painted nails. It wasn't too long before the boys wanted bracelets and nails painted too! The kids craved this one-on-one time, and it was a great opportunity to love on them like Jesus. In the afternoons, the guys built school benches while the girls bagged rice & beans for some of the families. One afternoon, we started to go on a "house visit," but were interrupted by the Governor of the entire island, La Gonave, who was handing out food to each village. We were able to talk with him for a while and actually got to pray for him, his country, and his time in office. That was one of the highlights of the week for me. We joked about meeting the "gov-na," but to actually have prayed with a man in office whose decisions directly affect this village was incredible. While we were doing VBS, Connie & Michelle were busy knitting with the women, a ministry they started a little while ago. The women knit beautiful dishcloths, we buy from them, and then sell them in the States. This is a huge opportunity to minister to the women, because they are making something with their own hands that will provide for their families. Connie and Michelle were able to pray with each woman that they bought from. These women are learning that they are just as important as their children that we are so quick to love on.

On Saturday, we hosted a Christmas party for the 2 schools. The kids performed songs, as well as their sign language songs, and I spoke briefly on James 1:17 "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes from the Father, with whom there is no change." I emphasized that gifts that we give and receive ultimately come from God, and that is who we should look to for our needs. We don't deserve any gifts we are given. The team doesn't deserve to be served and loved the way we are when we are there, and the villagers don't deserve to be sponsored for school. All of these are gifts because of the love of Jesus. We then fed them lunch and handed out backpacks, rice and beans. When we weren't doing "planned" events, the team was loving on the people. Haitians "helped" the guys build the school benches. And let me have a huge shout-out to Johan, Drew Channell, Drew Jones and Jordy- these guys built benches before breakfast, in the afternoon, and at night by flashlight. It was so great to watch them work and enjoy (in some sense) what they were doing- don't worry, we only had 4 hammers, or the girls would have helped too. Also going on during this whole time was a men's teaching, where my dad taught about 20-30 men more about the Gospel, the Bible, marriage, being a godly father, and answered a TON of questions. It was so cool to listen in when he brought my mom up and asked her what she thought a godly husband looked like. They just kind of stared at her for a while. There were so many things going on throughout the week- way too many to blog about, but just know that God was at work. We sent a pregnant mom in a lot of pain to the hospital in time for her to deliver healthy twin boys. We sang worship songs that Haitians started to sing in Creole, and it was beautiful.

One night I did the devotion on Philippians 1- reminding everyone that not all of our work was Christian-to-non-Christian, but that a lot of it was "thanking God for our partnership in the Gospel" with fellow Christians and encouraging them in their walk. Then we sang "The Love of God," and Kailene, a school teacher who was in camp with us started to sing it in Creole. It was the most beautiful picture of what the body of Christ looks like that I have seen in a really long time. The entire week was so uplifting and encouraging, amid the heartbreaking stories and realities of poverty, disease, and sin. We spent an entire day at a resort, Wahoo Bay, where Jordy proposed to Lanette while we ALL watched from the balcony!! I have been so blessed in my friendship with Jordy, and meeting Lanette through him has been so great. I'm so thankful that we all got to spend the week together and get to know each other better- I'm so excited for them and their future marriage. The team was almost as excited as they were :) The next morning, the group took me to the orphanage in Port au Prince where I will be working until May. That is where I am right now. As much of a blessing as the week in La Source was, it has left me very tired. When you are on a week-trip, you pour your all into everything you do. Now that I'm staying to do something else for a while, I'm having to slowly recover from that even as I am kind of in a culture shock. Village Haiti and city Haiti are 2 different places. Yesterday I tried to get oriented with my co-workers, housemates, orphanage kids, nannies, rules, dos, don'ts, internship requirements, a weird Haitian phone, and not flushing toilet paper, all in one day. To say I'm slightly overwhelmed is an understatement, but I'm so glad that I'm here. I want to blog more about the O soon and what this week has been like, but this is all my brain can handle for right now.

Peace & Blessings, yall.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

getting there.

So far, we've made it to Miami. For those of you who don't know, this has been the most eventful, unexpected circumstances- filled trip to Haiti thus far. You name it, it happened. But, I know that God wants this exact team in the village of La Source to minister this week. Everyone is so excited, and even with extreme sleep-deprivation, I can say that I am fully confident in this trip and in what the Lord will do through it. He knows why certain things have happened, and has definitely used this experience to grow our faith. This team firmly believes that we have been called to go. And so, we are going. Well, we are in the process of going. Our flight leaves at 7am tomorrow for Port-au-Prince. From there we will take a boat ride to the island and set up our camp for the rest of the week. This will be the longest day for us, but it will also be an awesome adventure. Reflecting on the past few days, I can say with certainty: people will disappoint you. There will be circumstances beyond your control. Your expectations may come crashing down right in front of you, or at least significantly altered. Either way, I have come to realize how much I depend on man to make things happen. If I depend on man for my circumstances, I will be disappointed, and I will feel out of control. But to be honest, it's not us that are large and in charge anyway. I cannot trust in myself or another human for things to go the way I plan any more than I can trust in myself for the salvation that comes from Christ. It just doesn't work. And so, I hold tightly to this quote from an awesome book I'm reading right now, Broken Down House by Paul Tripp. He says,
"real rest is not found in understanding, real rest is found in trust."
And so, I trust the One who sets all things in motion. Today has been great- although unexpected, our team got to spend the day bonding over airport adventures, group naps, prayer and UNO games. We got to know each other better, (or for the first time) which helps to prepare us for ministry together. I am so thankful for this sweet time, even before we reach Haiti. So us, we're getting there. We're still headed to La Source, and couldn't be more excited. We're still getting to know each other and preparing our hearts for this ministry. But the "getting there" is sometimes just as fruitful as the "being there." And me, I'm getting there too. Getting to a place where I can say and fully believe, God's got this, I don't. And it's a good thing I'm not in charge, because we'd probably have given up by now and settled for some fish tacos on the US soil. Sometimes getting there is the hardest battle, but often it's where God works the most.