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.


  1. You've come a long way. I'm proud of you.

  2. Thanks for sharing It's time like this when I was reading this that I wish I can just be there to help fix things. I'm proud of you for being able to fix it all GOD is good praying for you 🙏💖

  3. Thank you for making it so much easier to appreciate all the blessings that we take for granted everyday.

  4. Ellen continue to persevere. You are a child blessed by God and you are and have been able to adapt, God Bless you.