Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Piece of Paradise...

Last week, I had the opportunity of a lifetime. I visited the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission which is home to the Miriam Center for children with special needs. It took about 9 hours by truck to get to the mission, but it could have taken 100 and I would have been just as happy on my arrival.

The landscape is beautiful and the buildings are colorful, but the children of the Miriam Center are what make it paradise! I only had a couple hours in the evening with the children before they went to bed on my first day, but in those couple of hours, I learned so much about each of them. Ti Willy is the silly one, Jean Kerry is the exercise machine, Moise is the adorable emotional child, Rachel likes to be held, Den Den is the leader, Peterson is the teeny tiny one, Emma is the precious sweet one, etc. Each one is different. Each one is special. Each one is a priceless gem!

I couldn't wait to get up and spend the whole next day with the children of the Miriam Home. There were 32 children in two rooms. Some were singing, some playing instrutments, some playing with legos, some trying to climb on me, and some just sitting with smiles on their faces. I loved all these children instantly, but there was a group of children that I was immediately drawn close to. They were the eight or nine children that were laying down. Many of them reminded me of Jean, and my heart just fell for them. There was Emma, Jimson, Andy, Lunide, Peterson, Henry Claude, Jessica, Rosalie, and more. I knew God wanted me to spend time with them. I knew I was there to love on them. I was there to pour His love unto them. I was there to comfort them, hold them, and pray over them. This was the purpose of my trip.

One by one, I would pick them up and carry them around the facility. Many of them so fragile and sweet. I knew they loved having another heartbeat alongside of their's. They were content and calm when held. It is these moments that I never want to forget. That quiet time with each precious one. I quickly realized that they were pouring love unto me and not vice versa. My heart was open and vulnerable.

The heart behind the happiness of these children is Courtney Pierce. She is a missionary who I've become friends with over the last year. She oversees, manages, and advocates for the Miriam Home. Courtney fights for these kids to be seen, heard, and loved. She spends every day being their advocate. She is their Mommy and they love her! We shared a lot of time together, and we just shared our similar but different stories. We talked about "our" kiddos. We agreed that they don't belong to us as they are certainly God's masterpieces! We agreed that it is simply a honor to even be part of their world. We know that we have both been brought together for a great purpose. We stand on the same platform that advocates to make the "invisible visible." We are blessed!

My time at the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission and Miriam Center was short, but had much impact on me. It was a priceless experience, and it was a lesson in how BIG our God is! Although it will require it's own blog, a tiny piece of this great trip is credited to Peterson. I kept going back to this teeny tiny little boy. He weighed 15 lbs and was almost 5 years old. My heart was breaking for him. When I went to bed at night, I just cried for Peterson. I knew God was stirring something, but I could only sob. I said, "Lord, please reveal your purpose for me, please tell me why you have allowed my heart to break into two." God quickly showed me that Peterson was to come home with me to Danita's Children even if it was temporary. Courtney felt the same way, so within just a couple days, little Peterson and I were on a journey back "home." It was hard to say goodbye, but it felt right to have Peterson coming back with me. I knew God had orchestrated the whole thing because it would not have been possible in the natural.

Tonight, little Peterson sits next to me on my bed while I write this. I look forward to sharing more about him, but for now I will just end with saying I have tasted a piece of paradise!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

One Year Later

Last week was the one year mark of me living in Haiti. Many words come to mind, but there is one that has come in my mind every day...FULL. I am full of gratitude, full of happiness, full of love, full of honor, and full of HOPE.

When I came one year ago, I knew I was listening to the call God had placed in my heart, but I did not know that the call would in return bring me to this level of refreshing. Stepping out in faith has blessed me more than I could have ever imagined. There is something about serving those God has put in front of you that brings you to a state of renewal. I never want things in my life to become stagnant, and living in Haiti, has certainly kept this from happening...

I will start with five sweet blessings:

Jean - the child that has changed my life forever, the one who has showed me to take nothing for granted (from the air I breathe to the ability to express myself)

Fitson - the happiest child on the planet who has taught me that laughter and joy should be a part of every day life

Denise: the little girl that has showed me that all challenges and obstacles can be overcome

Rose Mica: the precious girl who always reminds me about the innocence of a child

Carlos: the cute boy who has taught me to never give up, to love in the tough times, and that patience is key

The construction has begun on the home that will house the special needs children here at the orphanage. It will be a honor and privilege to be their housemother. Our little family is just beginning...

"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin." Zechariah 4:10 NLT

As I look at this past year, I am reminded of the hard times. These are the times that God reminded me to trust in Him and give Him glory even in the most difficult days. I have been greatly humbled by the way God comforts. Haiti is surrounded by death, so I knew it wouldn't be long before I had to face it with my own eyes. Sweet little ones like Dianise, Joudliska, Wesnerson, and Junika all went home to heaven. They were ultimately saved from suffering any longer, and this I am grateful for.

I have seen death, but I have also seen miracles in the last year. When Chivensky's shunt (placed for Hydrocephalus) malfunctioned, a neurosurgeon "just happened" to stop by the property to say hi. He was leaving the next day, but we had him look at Chivensky and he performed the brain surgery the day he left! Chivensky would have died within a few days if the surgery didn't happen. I am also reminded of the three days and nights I had Jean across the border in a clinic with severe pneumonia. The nurses told us later that they thought he had died after one of his seizures because he stopped breathing, but God saved his life. Then there is Givensky, a little blind boy in the village, who fell into a fire his blind mother was cooking dinner in. One miracle after another has taken place...

All of this has made me FULL. I have become a better person through it all, and I have been blessed beyond measure. I am thankful for everyone in my life. I am grateful for this opportunity, and I am appreciative to everyone who has come alongside of me. The encouragement, support, and love has been overwhelming from my family and friends in the United States as well as everyone I work with in Haiti. My heart has grown bigger, for sure! It was a year of new beginnings, a year of healing, a year of deeper love. It has certainly been a year to remember and I look forward to another!