Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The 21st Century

It’s 2021. The prime time of social media, robotic surgeries, fast food on every corner, electric cars, stimulus checks, doggie day cares, overnight mail deliveries, sparkling water, heated pools, and ease. Lots and lots of ease. 

And yet.... not across the world, not in some far off place, not some unreached people group that has never heard of America... no, it’s not that. It is less than 2 hours off the coast of Florida. The island that has hit our nightly news stations more times than once. The place where some people still live in thatched huts with no running water, no electricity, no mango berry exfoliating hand soap or scented shampoo made especially for curly hair. No closet full of sandals or pantries full of junk food. 

It’s a place with natural beauty, majestic mountains, turquoise waters, island time, and simple living. 

It’s a place that still to this day, in the 21st century, struggles to feed its people. It’s a place where you ask children what they want to be when they grow up and they don’t have an answer. They never have an answer because they don’t even know what opportunities are even out there. 

God didn’t lavish us with luxuries to live a rich life all to ourselves or to acquire more stuff- I of one have my fair share of way too much stuff. 

He blessed us so we could be a blessing. We are His hands and feet. We are the ones who are expected as His followers to help the poor, the forgotten, the outcast. 

That is why we are rich. Our riches aren’t bad. It is not something to be guilty of. And for sure isn’t something to flaunt, but it is the tool we need and the tool we have to bless. To be a blessing. We mustn’t let the world and its “stuff” blind our vision to reality. To poverty. To starvation. To the countless ways we can help others. To the never ending ideas that we, who have so much, can be a blessing to someone else. 

The greatest gift of all is being able to give. Because in some beautiful, profound, extravagant way, we end up getting blessed in return too. We have plenty to give.

 Just remember to give it. 

“Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience TRUE LIFE.” 

1 Timothy 6:17-19 

The neighbor down the street, the beggar on the corner, the widow in the nursing home, the ministry across the ocean- they’re waiting and praying and crying out to God for you. 

For YOU. 

Be a blessing.

 I promise you’ll be blessed in return. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020


 “why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?”

Matthew 6:28-30 


Y’all, I saw this bug on my front porch and was beyond amazed. It’s as if God said “I’m going to take a little extra time on this little Caribbean bug that most people will casually walk by and squash and paint a masterpiece on its back."


It literally looks like someone painted his shell. And someone did. The God of the universe that knows every hair on your head, every cell in your body and every thought in your mind. He made this artwork and called it GOOD. 


And yet Jesus talks about the wildflowers and the birds and how they are provided for with what they need without all the hussle and bussle to stock up, harvest, and have “worries that dominate the thoughts of unbelievers.” So why do we worry about every little thing?  Jesus responds and says look “can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”


Ephesians 2:10 “for we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do good things he planned for us long ago.”


We are a masterpiece. You and I were created so intricately, so beautifully, so miraculously that Paul states we are God’s masterpiece. More so than this random bug. More so than the wildflowers. More so than the birds in the air. He looked at us and called us VERY GOOD. His own masterpiece. Made to look like His image. Beautifully and wonderfully made. Unique in every way. Worthy. Wanted. Breathtaking. 

And you know how masterpieces are taken care of? Very well. If we own a painted masterpiece we’d keep in clean, provide the right atmosphere so it doesn’t rot. Put it on a mantel to let it shine and amaze everyone by its looks. And when they asked what famous artist painted this magnificent piece of artwork we can look them in the eye and say the name JESUS. Because we are that artwork in God’s eyes and he is going to take care of us every minute of every day. His plan is good. We can trust Him because we are what brings Him joy. And he loves to show us off. So do not let your worries add a single moment to your life. He will provide, He cares, He is worthy to be praised.


You have to believe that. 

You are the worth of a masterpiece. You were created to do good things. You are His prized possession. 

He loves you.

Remember it.

Believe it.

Live it out.


“We, out of all creation, became his prized possession.” 

James 1:18

Once you learn the value in being a daughter of the King, those worries will slowly be tossed aside. Once you see how majestic God really is, those fears will be thrown out. Once you know the everlasting strong power of the Lord Almighty, you as a masterpiece will take on this world vibrantly with Christ Jesus by our side knowing that whatever is thrown our way, we are masterpieces and masterpieces were made to shine. 







Monday, October 19, 2020

Rainbows and Razor wire

Branch: “You don’t know anything, Poppy, and I can’t wait to see the look on your face when you realize the world isn’t all cupcakes and rainbows, because it isn’t. Bad things happen, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

 Poppy: “I know it’s not all cupcakes and rainbows, but I’d rather go through life thinking that it mostly is instead of being like you. You don’t sing, you don’t dance, so grey all the time!”
What was the first thing you saw in the picture? The rainbow or the razor wire?

 There’s been times when joy would fill my heart like the excitement everytime I see a rainbow in the sky and then within an instant, I am reminded what still lingers... Death, disease, trauma, shame, hate, sin. It’s like the reminder that the rainbow comes only after the dreary rain. It’s like the devil is constantly trying to throw the sharp, dangerous, fearful razor wire into our vision when all we want to see is God and His majesty in the skies. 
We want to see cupcakes and rainbows but all we see is grey. We get blinded by the storms of life that we loose sight of the rainbow.
 Sometimes we're blinded by the world. Sometimes it’s hard to see the good when there is so much evil in front of us. And sometimes the devil wins. Sometimes I’m just grey, as Poppy told Branch in my girls’ favorite movie “Trolls”. Sometimes living inside a security wall topped with two rows of razor wire is heavy on my heart.

Sometimes negativity comes to mind before positivity. Bitterness comes out of my mouth instead of thankfulness. The devil’s lie’s flood my head instead of God’s promises. And sometimes as hard as I look, all I see is the razor wire without a rainbow in sight. 

But thank goodness for Jesus and his grace.Thank goodness that no amount of grey in my life can keep Jesus from sending the rainbow. Because when I fall into the razor wire entrapment of life and its lies, He is right there to lift me back up and remind me of the beauty found in and through Him. When my heart is ugly and my sin is great and my motives are wrong, I can still look around and see the blessings He has given me and feel His presence waiting patiently for me to get back up again. When I turn on the news  I see so much division. So much hate. So much destruction. 

So, I pray. I pray so hard that we don’t let the grey destroy us. I pray we can look beyond all the blood thirsty razor wires in life and see the rainbow. See the goodness in humanity. See the power of Jesus that is alive and well and active today. Keep your eyes focused on HIM. Don’t dwell on the issues in front of you. Don’t let the grey pull you down. Look beyond them and see Jesus. Look for Jesus in everything. No matter how dark it is, he’s still here.

 By keeping our focus on things from heaven and not the things of this world, that joy comes back. It comes back tenfold and floods your heart and mind and spirit and even though the world is falling apart, you can still see the good. The great. The beauty.

 With Jesus, the rainbow will always come.

Friday, September 11, 2020

For the Newbie

It was the month of June. A Monday afternoon. The girls were playing outside. It was 3 months into our new normal of staying inside our 4 walls while the mysterious virus raged through our world.

There was a “knock” at the gate. From that simple knock, we knew something was wrong. All the girls were rushed into our safe room. I stood on the porch, watching, while texting a friend and calling another. Someone needed to know what was going on in case things escalated. Tensions rose, demands were verbalized, guns were shot. And time stood still, again. It shook me to my core and this instance by far wrecked me more than any other from the past. Or, perhaps, all the rest of the traumatic experiences were finally catching up to me now and my mind was acutually accepting the results of trauma and its triggers. Desperate times call for desperate measures and La Limyè was the chosen target. My name was the target. On that Monday afternoon we received a not so lovely visit from the local gang.

So, for the newbie wanting the "adventure" of being a missionary...
When you ask if its “hard”, here is what I’ll tell you:

Yes, at times it is hard. At times it’ll be really, really hard. You’ll cry yourself to sleep and when mama texts you’ll say you’re too tired to talk. When in reality you know it’s better for everyone if you just cry alone. It’s better to save the fear and stress and worry from them and just keep it all to yourself. It seems easier to deal with the trauma alone then try to explain it to friends 1700 miles away surrounded by the comfort of enforced laws and a justice system.
At times, you’ll watch helpless babies suffer day in and day out and then they’ll die. And it might happen more times than the fingers on your hand. If you were responsible for that child, you’ll be left to pick up all the pieces in a culture and language that you never quite feel like you fit into. You’ll never quite be one of them. If it’s the neighbor’s child that dies, you’ll have to listen and watch as everyone cries and screams in disbelief for hours while trying not to let the knowledge of having limited healthcare being the reason children die from preventable causes over here cause you to panic every time your own child has a simple fever or cough.
You might have guns pointed at your head or guns shot at other people 2 feet from your car as you’re pushing the kids heads to the floorboard as quick as possible. You might have gangs surrounding your vehicle pounding on the windows as you pray like never before to escape, having already hid your most precious piece of gold-your ticket out. A United States of America passport.
You’ll no longer have that sub-conscience knowledge of being able to rely on the justice system or the police if a problem arises.
You’ll see injustice and hate and crimes like men being dragged from the backs of motorcycles for torture or set on fire from stealing as you drive by and only see a burnt up body on the side of the road as people casually walk by. You might watch as your neighbor casts voodoo spirits into souls and from your roof you see young women wailing and rolling around on the ground as possessed. You’ll cry out to God in sadness that they went to him for help and healing and not the ministry next door who knows the Ultimate Healer. You’ll see the aftermath of undercover agents that busted a huge sex trafficking sting at the hotel where you have your visiting mission team staying. You’ll crave burgers and sweatshirts and mascara that doesn’t melt.
You’ll go home to the States and try to fit in but realize you’ve changed. Fireworks sound like gunshots and make your heart skip a beat. Going miles and miles with no one jumping on the back of your car for a free ride and driving like robots never getting over the yellow line will feel just… dull. Then there is the fact that you can go all day without seeing a beggar, or poverty, or even a motorcycle with 6 people on it plus a goat. It's calming and boring at the same time.
You hate having to beg for money but that’s the only way to feed the ministry that feeds the community and you’ll be nervous about posting that beach picture like somehow we aren’t allowed to take days off too. You’ll miss birthday parties and weddings, holidays and get togethers. You’ll see pictures of lake days posted by friends or campfire cookouts or Christmas morning jolly. You’ll roll your eyes and lie to yourself that it’s all overrated when in reality you desperately want that fun communion with friends without a care in the world sitting on the front porch drinking sweet tea without misqitoes or voodoo music distracting your peace.


You’ll also watch malnourishment miraculously fade away from being intentional in providing prayer and nutrients to the one year old in newborn diapers who literally feels like a sack of bones. You’ll witness the power of God strengthen up believers from seeing a toddler walk for the first time after being told she couldn’t. You’ll feel on top of the world when the baby finally has the strength to sip milk from a bottle instead of being fed by a syringe.
You’ll see people give their life to Christ wholeheartedly with no turning back. You’ll be surrounded by women who don’t just say they trust God, but actually tangibly trust Him and you’ll yearn for that same confident trust amidst so much challenges. You’ll get to experience a brand new vibrant culture filled with new traditions, new foods, and new adventures. You’ll get the honor of sitting at the house of new friends while speaking a new language as they welcome you into their family as you learn the beauty of different cultures and the reality that sometimes it’s not right vs wrong, but just different. You see differences as a unique gift that makes us all beautifully made in HIS image. A different way to live, different foods to eat, different ways to do life. A way that is so much more down to earth, relaxing, simplified.
You’ll watch God transform ideas and passions to fit His perfect plan to make His name known. You’ll be able to see good from every bad thing and purpose from every disaster because you’ll be so in-tune with the Lord that you hear from Him. Worldy distractions like movies, 24/7 unlimited internet, hangout spots with friends, will be limited so you learn to cling to Jesus and find peace there. You’ll give, and sacrifice, and help, and serve, but you won’t be burnt-out, you’ll be filled up pouring over with peace from God. You’ll get to be right where Jesus would be if he were here. Feeding the hungry, helping the widow, accepting the outcasts, teaching the children. Living and loving the humans on this planet without a worry in the world of what it’ll cost. Because you know Jesus is worth it. You'll witness the most majestic sunsets that America's streetlights always take away. You'll see the smiles and the laughter and the love from your neighbors as they pour blessing after blessing upon you. You'll witness the Holy Spirit working in churches like never before because there is far less distractions stealing the stage. You'll work with some of the most loving, caring, and helpful employees that show you time and time again that they truly care for your wellbeing. Yes, missionary life is hard at times, but it is so worth it if you do it for the sake of Jesus. It is worth every tear, every ounce of pain, every sacrifice that won’t even feel like a sacrifice, it’ll feel like an honor. It is worth loosing relationships over and losing a stable job and income over. It is worth being called crazy or ridiculous or yes, even a Jesus freak. It is worth being an outcast and not fitting in. It is worth every want and desire in your life. Because in Him, in Jesus Christ, living out His will for your life, somehow, miraculously, you find yourself. Your complete self. To die to self is to live. To die is to gain. You find joy. You find strength. You find purpose. You find love. You find Jesus. There’s nothing in this world more precious than being in his will doing what we’ve been called to do. And then somehow, someway, after 7 years of living on this island, you might just call it home. You'll accept the good and the bad that *EVERY* country and culture gives and you'll find yourself uncomfortably comfortable in this beautfiful thing called life. Whether overseas or down the street be in His will. Be a missionary-one who spreads the name of Jesus in the hometown where you grew up, in the next State over, or across the world. We are all called to make His name known.

- I pray for those men every day. A mixture of anger and fear was within me until I looked into the eyes of the gang leader outside my front gate and all I saw was a lost soul. I didn’t see a murderer as some call him. I didn’t see a kidnapper or a robber, all I saw was a young man that was utterly lost. My heart hurts because the devil has a grip on him and all I can picture is his entrapment.

I wish he could feel the peace found in Jesus. I want him to know he won’t be defined by his past if he will just surrender it all to God and ask for forgiveness. I want him to know I truly forgive him for trying to hurt me and this ministry. I so desperately want others to know that peace. To know that love. To know that even if I have a gang wanting to destroy my mental health out of what seemed like just a love for money packed with a lot of confusion, that I still will forever worship my God. Because HE IS GOOD. No matter what, He is good, and He is worthy.

The last few years in Haiti have been tough. And I know I’m not alone. I know of many missionaries right now being attacked by the devil and getting weary of this long season with Haiti’s constant unrest. A friend of mine sent me a message to say he was praying for me. He and his family live here too. He said “it’s a one track mind to make it to Port (the city) to get all you can done and safely make it back home in one piece in the same car.” His words are true and they reminded me that so many missionaries are going through this long season of unknowns too.
But you know what, if my life brings others to Christ, it is worth it. If through writing about my pain and my fears and my struggles and my hurts, and my failures, others see the power of God or the miracles from God or the peace in God, then I’ll keep pressing on. I’ll keep my chin up and dig my heels in and wipe away the tears and find strength from within to battle through.
“Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.”
2 Corinthians 4:10-12
---- "Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder characterized by failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. The condition may last months, or years, with triggers that can bring back memories of the trauma accompanied by intense emotional and physical reactions." -MayoClinic. According to the American Psychiatric Association it is estimated that PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults every year. Let's join together and pray for everyone that has ever experienced PTSD and its symptoms. Everyone is fighting a battle. Everyone could use an extra prayer.

Friday, July 24, 2020

When Everything Broke

I flew back into Haiti last Tuesday after spending one week in America. It was a much-needed week of refreshment after having ten staff members living on site and keeping the girls inside for several months when the virus first started spreading. Tuesday came and went yet my luggage did not. Wednesday, Thursday, and then Friday went by before finding that 46lb suitcase filled with supplies for the ministry. A trip to the airport is an all-day adventure. Roadblocks from gangs robbing vehicles and throwing rocks, insane bumper to bumper (or hood, or passenger side door) traffic from no one obeying 4-way stops, and police with automatic weapons making sure we have a driver’s license every few hundred meters down Route 9 caused for delay after delay after delay. Finally, I got my luggage and after 4 days back in Haiti, I felt like I could finally settle back in and spend time with the girls like I had just arrived. Little did I know what was in store for the next week. It a weird “what in the world is going on?!?!?!” kind of week because EVERYTHING started breaking at the ministry. Literally one random thing would break and within the hour something else would break. Here’s the list. Read and weep…or laugh at the coincidences. Life is all about perception.

1. Lost luggage. Daily trips into the city
2.Broken weed eater. Beyond repair. Only 8 months old.
3.Kitchen sink wouldn’t drain. Had to dig a hole, cut open the pvc pipe and drain the junk inside. The cook forgot only water can go down the drain… not scraps of food and GREASE!
4. Stopped up toilet due to some little, sweet child flushing down a whole bar of soap. The entire toilet had to be taken off the ground to dig it out. Yes, feces flooded the bathroom AND the hallway.
5.Washing machine broke. Won’t wash, wont rinse, wont spin. But it does make all the noise like it’s working!
6.My bedroom ceiling fan broke. Light works, fan doesn’t.
7.The check valve underground broke causing all of our water tanks to empty on their own overnight.
8.The school bus won’t start. Still won’t start. It never starts.
9.The community center toilet broke and overflowed flooding the pavilion. This toilet hasn’t even been touched since MARCH!
10.A standup fan in the girl’s room broke.
11.We smelt something burning and went running. Another stand up fan was smoking and too hot to even touch. Broken.
12.4-Runner won’t start
13.Tv isn’t working. What do we do without Peppa Pig and Minnie Mouse in a house full of toddlers??
14.Freezer stopped working. Right after going to the grocery store and filling it up!
15.Pvc valve broke that turns off the water to the entire compound.
16.Another toilet broke. This time is was the floater.
17.Pvc pipe randomly came unglued underground and water started pouring out of the ground. Again.

And I kid you not from July 18th-23rd all of this happened plus the 4 days before searching for luggage. (No, they won’t find it and deliver it to my house like in America!)

So, I had a choice. Get stressed out, overwhelmed, and frustrated that ALL this broke so randomly and so quickly right when I get back to Haiti… or laugh at the circumstance as I scratch my head in disbelief that this could all actually happen in one weird week.
And to be honest, I’m glad this all happened. I’m glad it happened because I learned how to disconnect the wires to a ceiling fan and install another one. I was able to tell my guards exactly where every pvc pipe runs, and where the electrical conduit is located. We were able to fix every issue and solve every problem quickly and easily (except for the bus...it’s still just sitting there) and it feels so good to see a problem and be able to fix it without needing to rely on a company… or a husband. Neither or which are anywhere to be found!
In a world with SO many unfixable problems constantly flowing through our heads, it feels good to fix one. Even if it’s as simple and small as gluing together pvc pipes in a country as challenging as this one where supplies can’t easily be found or retrieved.

It honestly made the blah days of no outreach classes and no school lively again.
Voodoo runs rampant here and with my next-door neighbor being a witch doctor, I was pleasantly surprised no one even questioned if that was the cause! Perhaps God was just reminding me of 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 “we are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”

And though these problems are so tiny compared to SO many hardships people face daily, it is still a good reminder that no matter how much piles up, we can still push through, learn through it, and sit back in peace knowing that God’s got this. Because he does. Our attitude can change the circumstance in an instant.

This house is the only one around that has a washing machine. So, it is ok that it broke because it was a blessing to have one in the first place.
This house is the only one around that has 24/7 ceiling fans running. It’s ok that it broke and had to get fixed. I am beyond thankful to have even had that blessing in the first place.
Every single plumbing issue made me that much more thankful for running, pressurized, water which is a gift from the Lord that many, many people do not have. I had an extra freezer waiting at the school (since it’s been closed) ready to be used so the food wouldn’t spoil. So, let’s look at our problems with gratitude. It is tough when our luxuries break but think about how much harder it would be if we didn’t even have them in the first place! Trust me, washing clothes and sheets by hand is more miserable than not having running water. You also might as well go buy a neck brace after trying to carry 5 gallons of water on your head.

At the beginning of all this there was stress. I mean who can look at a problem and not get stressed? It’s the human nature. The thought of “WHAT IF it’s not just junk clogging the pvc pipes. WHAT IF the septic is full and back to the city we go taking 4 hours round trip to try and get a company to come pump it out ASAP” and knowing ASAP is nonexistent in this country and plus there’s been no diesel for a few weeks in the whole country so no truck could probably come anyway. “WHAT IF the well ran dry and there was no more water to even pump up and that is what caused all the plumbing issues.” The “What ifs” in life are one of my biggest setbacks. I apologize to God ALL. THE. TIME. For worrying instead of praying. But we can’t rest in the attitude of stress. We must escape it. I had to take a deep breath, accept the outcome, and use this as a teaching session for myself to be THANKFUL in ALL circumstances. Not easy, but it will please God. And that is our ultimate aim.
After the first few broken things, and realizing that more was to come, it became funny. Hilarious actually as my staff and I kept wide eyes to see what would break, fall apart, or stop working next. They’d come yelling for me trying not to laugh as they explain the next issue that has come to be. And I walked around with my jaw on the ground in utter disbelief at the amount of randomness one week could bring.

To all my brothers and sisters out there living on the streets or living in poverty not knowing what it’s like to have a fan, or a washing machine, or a vehicle, or a toilet. I am sorry. I am sorry if you’ve had to watch us pout and complain about our luxuries breaking. I’m sorry if we’ve acted entitled to get Mr. Fix-it out to the house in record time to help US with OUR problems while completely ignoring the man down the road dressed in rags, eating leftovers out of trash cans and simply just trying to survive. I am sorry if we have been so consumed with ourselves that we’ve lost sight of helping the mechanic who is just simply trying to put food on the table. I am sorry if our attitude and behavior doesn’t always represent the heart of Jesus when stress is within us. We are a work in progress.
We’ve been blessed with more than enough. I am reminded that time and time again..

2 Corinthians 1:4 “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.”

Count your blessings. Then count them again.

Friday, July 10, 2020

The First Few Seasons

Once upon a time I moved to Haiti. It was August 2013 and I remember that first day like it was yesterday. I had just turned 22. I moved in with a Haitian family whom I didn’t even know their names. They had a two-story cinderblock cemented house. It was beautiful on the outside; a sidewalk lined with seashells to the backdoor with the scent of flowers that overtook the path along the way. The husband, wife, and their two young kids lived downstairs and my quarters were upstairs. That first night was like no other. I had two rooms, a bathroom, and a front and back porch. The back porch overlooked a giant mango tree, the front porch overlooked highway 1, a busy highway that goes North and South along the island of Haiti. Across the street was a junkyard/repair shop and a tire store where you could get air put in your tire for 5 cents.

Before moving to Haiti, I grew up sheltered and shy. Danger or risks weren’t in my vocabulary. Third worlds didn’t even exist in the map in my brain. But when I met Jesus just two years prior in 2011, everything changed. He flipped my world upside down and burst me out of that bubble I lived in. To follow Him, a crucified Savior, sounded like the most beautiful, selfless, daring, honoring, terrifying thing I could do. Little did I know the cost. Little did I care. I was head over heels and on fire for serving the Lord, though I knew very little about what that meant. I didn’t know how to make disciples, I didn’t know how many books were in the bible, or even how to pray without ceasing. I spent two years learning what I could before moving overseas but before that, church wasn’t really a big deal to me. I was a believer, but I knew nothing about Jesus and his ways.

So back to that first night in Haiti. I obliviously had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had no idea what life in Haiti would entail but I was eager to follow Jesus and I figured He would lead me the rest of the way. I jumped in, leaning on God to teach me how to swim in the deep end.

Summer nights in Haiti are gruesome. We had no electricity and at times, no running water. Cement soaks up heat and holds it in…plus being upstairs as heat rises caused even more sweat to drip down my head in my unfurnished concrete house that I was supposed to call home.
I spread out a bath towel on the back porch and laid down. Every few minutes there was a small breeze that through the tears I would thank God for. I did have a mattress but the concrete floor was much cooler than the mattress.

I learned very quickly that I was highly allergic to mango trees thus I moved my bath towel to the front porch and began sleeping out there with the semi-trucks blaring their horns at 3am and the dogs barking every other hour of the night. Pitch black darkness surrounded me as there were no street lights and no neighbors with electricity either.

I remember my shower curtain being clear. Living in a foreign country without knowing the language and with strangers got the best of me and I wasn’t about to take a shower in the dark without being able to see what’s coming!
I would walk in the bathroom and a roach or a lizard would fall onto my head. I learned to laugh at the situation, because without laughter, there would just be tears during those first few months or learning a different way to live. I’d hold a flashlight in my mouth in the early morning hours before the sun heated up the room so that I could get a somewhat decent ponytail into my stringy hair. I lived like my neighbors so life like this became the norm. Water that flowed along the streets and used by the whole community was carried to my back porch, so I could wash my clothes by hand… or at least let them soak in soapy water… (it was better than nothing)
I had little access to anywhere outside of the village where I was building La Limyè Ministries. I was sheltered in a sense and had no idea what all Haiti had... like actual grocery stores in the city! I had taken 7 or 8 trips to Haiti before moving there but with short term mission trips, we stay secured, and in a way don’t even see the real Haiti as we are following our detailed itinerary.

Most of my food was brought in my suitcase. I had to be creative when hunger set in. I’d bring condiments from restaurants since I didn’t have a fridge to keep things fresh. After a few months, mustard on a plain flour tortilla was much better than just a plain flour tortilla. Luke warm water in my cereal switched things up from just eating dry cereal. Spaghettio’s from a can made me think I was supposed to still be in college, and as my body lacked adequate vitamins and my allergies were thrown overboard with that darn mango tree in the backyard, I stayed feeling ill for quite some time as my body was trying to adjust to a new life in what seemed like a new world 90 minutes from Miami. Looking back, I don’t remember hating the circumstances. It became normal and that helped me press on. Deep down I was blinded by the whole scenario, but God was molding me and I’m beyond thankful He did.

I got use to the roaches and those lizards that were longer than my feet pretty quickly. They had already made residence in the house and there was no kicking them out. The rats on the other hand just about did me in. Giant rats with incredibly long tails that would jump across my legs at night or sniff my feet as I slept with one eye open and my finger never leaving the flashlight button. That led to me sleeping in an old green velvet chair that the family downstairs gave me. I put that velvet chair up against the dining room table straight back chair and slept like that for a few months. There was no rolling over because the chair was only about 18 inches wide but somehow in my mind I was able to fall asleep persuading myself that rats can’t climb. Sometimes denial is essential.
Those two years shaped me. They were the hardest two years of my life, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I’m not sure if I could ever repeat them, but I am truly thankful for them.

I had someone pick me up and take me to the village where I was building a home every day. I’d be dropped off in the village, and then forced to learn the ropes without knowing the culture or the language. No itinerary, no schedule, just the village and I learning all about each other. It was in those days I watched a lady pluck toenails off of a chicken before cooking it. I excused myself from that meal.

Thankfully after a long season in that hot house, La Limyè in the village was near completion which was a big blessing because when a Boa Constrictor snake was found in that cursed mango tree, I was done.

I honestly can’t even remember if I had electricity and running water already when I moved into my new home. I guess in a way it didn’t really matter because I had a home. I had my own clean space. I had a big yard with no mango trees. I was excited for the next season to begin.
My nights in that rented house on Route 1 were in the past, but the memories were still vivid. I remember guns being shot down on the street as I didn’t move a muscle on that front porch hoping no-one saw me. I remember seeing bodies in the road from being hit by a car and people just walking past like no big deal, I remember tear gas dispersed as I tried to escape one of the many riots that I would see over the years on this island.
I remember lots of tears and lots of adventures. I wasn’t ready for Haiti in my opinion. I wasn’t mature enough or strong enough for Haiti. Those first few years feel like a blur now as I remember testing the waters and going through a lot of trials and errors. I learned a lot about myself during those first few years. Perhaps I never would have been ready without God putting me through those two years of transformation, growth, and maturity. I continued to make mistakes and fail at serving God as I learned the ropes of the Haitian culture and at the same time learned how to be a follower of Jesus as a 2 year old believer. I was a weak missionary but I am thankful for that because “we can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” Romans 5:3 & 4

So back then and still now I lean on 1 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weaknesses.”

I’ve come such a long way since those treacherous days in the beginning. I owe every bit of perseverance to God. Every single trial I went through made me 100 times more thankful for the luxuries I would be given later. I know what it’s like to not have running water and expected to sleep in 100 degree weather. So now as I step foot in that pressurized shower of mine with any color shower curtain I want, I have such a stronger sense of thankfulness. When I open my fridge 100 times a day, I can truly praise God for electricity after having known what it’s like to go without. I can laugh instead of cry at the craziness of life knowing God’s got this and He is all we need. I can now drive wherever I want and see all of Haiti and speak their language in the grocery stores I didn't know they had!
We all go through trials. We all will go through tough seasons. Seasons that we don’t feel equipped to handle. Seasons or maybe even years when the days never end, and the vision seems clouded, and the emotions are way too overbearing and we just don't feel ready. But endurance develops strength of character and that’s good for the soul. Jesus said it himself that he has given us authority over all the power of the enemy. We could walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. So whatever season you’re in, own it. It will shape you and mold you and mature you into the beautiful soul our God created you to be. It will make you more thankful than you ever were before, and it will make you more aware of all the little blessings God bestows upon us, blessings that use to go unnoticed. God causes everything to work together. It may not be the path you envisioned, but don’t lose hope. Arm in arm with our King, you’ll make it out of that difficult season with new eyes, new hope, and an even-stronger love for our Maker- and maybe looking back you'll be able to laugh at the craziness as you see God's hand in it. Don't give up. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

My advice to you, my little ones

I’ll pour into you the little bit of wisdom I have every second I get, but eventually, you’ll be on your own. All grown up taking on the world. So here is my advice for you:

Love entirely. Be so full of love that people yearn to know where it comes from, then show them Jesus. Love like He did. To the beggar, to the prostitute, to the outcast, to the poor.
"love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude." 1Peter 3:8

Give until it hurts. We aren’t taking anything with us my love so give it all away. Find that joy in watching others receive. Give when no one is watching. Give over and abundantly to the Lord and His people.
"it is more blessed to give than to receive." -Jesus

Be Bold against the world. Fight against the injustice. Fight for the poor to have a voice, speak up for the rejected, the unwanted, the oppressed, the orphan, the homeless, the addict. Be bold enough to want to change the ugly in our world and refuse to listen to the crowd who says it’s not possible.
"learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows." Isaiah 1:17

Be a Women. Dress modestly. Your worth will never be found in your looks. Your value will never be based on your body. Be a woman who stands tall and confident knowing all your beauty is found in your heart; a heart set on Jesus. Be a women that knows your standards and won’t ever settle for less than what is lovely in the eyes of our Lord.
"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a women who fears the Lord will be greatly praised." Proverbs 31:30

Stand firm in your faith. Don’t let the world shake you. Don’t let the haters discourage you. Stand firm in the promises of God knowing they are true. Stand firm knowing you’re a daughter of the King. Stand firm in your beliefs and never stop praying. Never ever stop praying.
"Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil." Ephesians 6:11

and above all else, remember this: Jesus loves you, forever and always.