Thursday, June 28, 2012

Grace Really Means Klutz

Time for 5 minute Friday where I join with other writers to write purely for the joy of the craft. Unscripted. Unedited. Real. Today's word....


My name may mean grace, but graceful I am not. Klutz is more accurate. Like all my mom's wedding china? Yeah, broke most of it. A plate the other day actually. And I'm 24. Some things never change.

That being said, dancing has never come naturally. I've always wanted to learn, but never in the spotlight. But that all changed 3 summers ago in Colorado. My last night at my leadership program, one of my friends grabbed my hand, pulled me off the couch, and led me to the center of the room. He was determined to teach me to swing dance.

Despite my desperate pleading, he patiently guided me through every step, every move, never letting me go. "RELAX" was the name of the game.

"Just let go!" he told me. Slowly, I began to follow his lead. I would do well for a little while and then lose my focus, remember I wasn't in control, worry about missing the next step, and I would stop following his lead...and we would mess up.

Thank goodness for patient friends who push past our fears and insecurities and face them with us. My fear was never of dancing itself, but of lacking control, of messing up, of being less than perfect.

What a joke. Life is a complicated dance. And we don't dance alone. My Savior reminds me to follow his lead every day

And since that dance lesson, the steps have become easier and easier. I've learned to let go. I've learned to follow the Man holding me up, telling me He's got it.

"Relax. Trust me. I will never let you go. Let me do something beautiful with you."

It's a picture of that ugly "s" word so many of us shy away from, but couldn't be more beautiful to me now. It's a picture of my daily dance with my Savior, and man, is He patient with me. My feet have learned to follow His, my body twirls in and out as he leads, swaying to the music.

And in my surrender to this dance, there is complete and total freedom and joy.

Linking up with the Gypsy Mama.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Risky Business

Time for 5 minute Friday where I join with other writers to write purely for the joy of the craft. Unscripted. Unedited. Real. Today's word....


I showed my passport and boarded the plane, my stomach twisting in knots. I didn't know what to expect, no clue how to plan. Just go.

Fear knawed at my mind. I knew I was opening myself up to change in a big way. No going back. I would never be the same. You can't immerse yourself in a country without leaving  a piece of yourself behind and taking a piece of that place with you.

Haiti infiltrated my blood, much  like those pesky mesquitoes in country. There is no forgetting the picture of hungry children, eager teens, or strong adults that know how to survive. There is no erasing the image of poverty and destruction or hope pushing up like a daisy in the middle of weeds.

I took the risk. I left for a place that I knew would NEVER allow me to infiltrate back into my own culture quite the same way. I think about the extra food I leave on my plate at restaurants and the clothes I donate to goodwill because I just get tired of them. I think of the things I take for granted, and my actions change to match my heart.

Risk always comes with a consequence, but that consequence can often be a blessing in disguise. I left a piece of my heart in Haiti and my life at home is better because of it. Now what I do with that change is a risk all in itself...deep breath....

Let's do this!

Linking up with the Gypsy Mama.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dream Big - What is your Vision?

"What is your vision for Haiti?" His heavily accented voice pierced me. How to answer this lanky 18-year-old? How to cure the longing in his voice? Young, eager, passionate, and, as I was told later, intent on finding an American wife, this Haitian teen's question sent my mind spinning.

Photo credit Chisty Chermak
My answer was vague and not to his satisfaction, but I couldn't answer with brutal honesty. I would love every child to have food, every single mother to have a provider, ever family to know Jesus, every man to have a job to provide for his family. I have big dreams for the people of Haiti, but my answer wasn't  what he needed to hear.

"It doesn't matter what my vision is for Haiti. What is your vision?" I asked him.

Education. Economic growth. Life improvement. He knew what his country needed because he is part of it. But how to make it happen? This kid is teaching himself English. His accent is more polished than the teens around him, his spelling and penmanship impeccable, his desire to learn outstanding.

His question is one we should ask ourselves as we pursue our dreams. I pray mine is as unselfish as this young man's. When people ask us for our vision, our direction, it should never catch us off guard. We should know it intimately because it is hardwired into us by the One who created us. We may not know the specific details, we may not see the whole picture, but we know what needs to take place to get us from point A to victory.

If your vision is self-centered, it will be meaningless. This teen's vision is BIG. If it comes to fruition, his entire country stands to gain, not just him. Shame on us if we don't think about how we can improve the lives of others through the vision the Lord has given each of us. You have a purpose! You matter!

So, I'll ask you the same question that this young man asked me, and I pray it haunts you and drives you to action... What is your vision? What are you doing to make it a reality? 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Road Less Traveled

After several Fridays off due to weddings and a week in Haiti, I'm back to 5 minute Friday where I join with other writers to write purely for the joy of the craft. Unscripted. Unedited. Real. Today's word....


My feet beat the jungle path, a tiny black hand in each of mine - a daily posture in every village we visited. Every house a new adventure, an unknown conversation, an opportunity.

For 7 days and over miles and multiple villages, we traveled, by bus or by foot. Each moment authentic, intentional, raw.We took good news of the "best way" as the Haitians call it.

I can't help but think that life is better there, even though they have nothing. They understand dependency on the only One who can Provide. They are traveling the right path. I wonder if we've lost sight of the path here in our comfortable, American culture.

We are called to live intentionally, authentically, like we did in Haiti. Make the most of every opportunity. Approach any house the Lord places in our path, gathering around the porch, and praying for one another, sharing the love of Jesus, being His hands and feet.

The same God that thrives in the simplicity of Haiti, exists in the bustle of Dallas. The people here are no different. They still need me to show the love of Jesus. And it's amazing that it took a trek on a jungle path to illuminate the path I often miss in my concrete jungle at home.

Are you on the right path?

Linking up with the Gypsy Mama.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lespwa Means Hope - Haiti 2012

People have constantly asked me about the condition of Haiti since the earthquake. There are still patches of rubble, still a lack of homes, food, and shelter, but the condition is hopeful. God isn't done in this place. In fact, I constantly heard stories of people coming to know the Lord or coming back to church after the earthquake. The Lord used something disastrous to draw the eyes of the world to a country that not only needs help but needs Him. Haiti now has HOPE, and I can't wait to see what God does.

Enjoy some of the pictures and stories from my trip. I borrowed most of these pictures from my teammates.

I met these 2 little girls in a village up in the mountains. We walked down the street singing "Wi Bondye bon" - Yes, God is good. These people understand that the Lord is their Provider and are very dependent on Him. I pray these girls grow up to know they are daughters of the King.

This woman knew abuse, abandonment, and rejection. My heart literally broke for her, and I found my eyes welling with tears as she shared her story. She was one of the first people we talked to on the trip.

We couldn't stress enough that the Lord is her Provider and loves her so much. Laura did a great job sharing the gospel with her. My heart went out to her and other women like her. She will forever stay in my memory.

Michael, Emily, and I made a great trio as we knocked out the dishes one night after dinner at Mission of Hope (MOH). The rest of the team pitched in drying, cleaning up, and acting as comic relief. It was important to our team that we not only loved the Haitians well, but that we also loved the missionaries at MOH and the other teams well. We diligently looked for opportunities to serve and love them to show our appreciation and respect for their sacrifice. They are amazing, and God is using them greatly in this country!

My team was AMAZING. They humbled, challenged, and encouraged me. I truly saw Jesus in the way they interacted with the Haitians, with others at MOH, and with those on the team. They were quick to serve, quick to listen, quick to encourage, quick to seek forgiveness, and quick to love unconditionally.

I LOVED rooming with these Godly women this week. They were a source of laughter and encouragement. We saw a lot and experienced a lot, but they were always available to point me to the Lord as I struggled to process and asked questions. So thankful for them.

This little man found me every time I walked in the toddler room. He didn't always like to be held, but he and his twin loved attention and had a fascination with their tiny flip flops. With so many orphans in Haiti, I'm so thankful that this guy has the privilege to grow up at MOH with people that will love him and teach him about Jesus. I miss seeing him every day.
We ended every day on top of the Banana with a clear and stretching view of the Haitian countryside and an expansive sky. It was our time to cry, laugh, question, encourage, and pray after a long day of ministry. It was a time to recharge. During these times, we grew closer as a team and closer to the Lord. I was delighted to see that our time in country has spilled over into our relationships here at home.

Our team wore these bracelets all week, compliments of Meera, as a tool to share the gospel. We took the gospel to Haiti and left it there with them. I pray it truly does change hearts.
Meet Ylona, a very talkative older woman with a heart of gold and a love for Jesus. She lives in this shed, and when she saw us coming she welcomed us with open arms, pulling out every chair so we could sit. We had to talk her out of sitting on the ground. Everywhere we went, these people welcomed us. Our translators always encouraged us to make ourselves at home. Ylona trusted the Lord as a result of the earthquake. She said Americans came and treated her sickness and told her about Jesus. She has followed the "best way" since and never wants to go back to the "old way." What a beautiful picture of beauty in brokenness!

More pictures and stories coming soon!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mwen Kapab - Haiti 2012

Wow, it's been a crazy, beautiful 2 weeks. Sorry for the lack of posts. For those of you who haven't read lately, I just returned from a week at Mission of Hope in Haiti and then spent the last week catching up on work and helping with a family wedding. Lots of fun memories, but I'm officially exhausted.

Over the next couple of weeks you will see tons of pictures and read tons of stories of my adventures in Haiti and what the Lord taught me. For now, I'll just show you a few of the highlights.

Mwen kapab is a theme in Haiti right now. It means "I can" in Creole. I truly believe the Haitian people are overcoming devastation and will continue to overcome. I believe Bondye kapab konsa Ayiti kapab - God can so Haiti can. I hope in these picture you will not only see the great need of the Haitian people, but the great God who is making something beautiful from what is broken.

The countryside of Haiti is beautiful, but so many are still in temporary shelters after the earthquake. My prayer is that the Lord will continue to raise up funds so these people can have homes.
Mission of Hope (MOH) has grown by leaps and bounds. The "Banana" or "Yellow Submarine" was built in the last year to house the mission teams that are flooding Haiti to help and share the gospel.
Once again, beautiful, beautiful country. When I look at Haiti, I see what it is becoming, and all it could be. This is the view from the top of the Banana.
This is a tap-tap, a kind of Haitian taxi or bus. This one is actually pretty big compared to some of the ones I saw. People pack in and hang off the back. Really unsafe! The roads are mostly unpaved and the road lines are more like guidelines than rules. Driving was definitely an adrenaline rush!
Welcome to Leveque, a community that has sprung up since the earthquake. Each home costs $6,000. Only a couple hundred families remain in temporary shelters. Soon, they will all be in homes like this. As you can see, the Haitians accessorize their lives in color.
The disabled in Haiti are seen as the worst of society, but this is changing. A deaf community has moved from Citi Soleil (the worst slum in this hemisphere) and now resides next to a hearing community here in Leveque. The deaf see that Jesus loves them and worship in sign language. Incredible experience with them! These people are resourceful! This family is growing plantains on the land  that comes with their house!

Haitian beach day out at Bercy, one of MOH's campuses. They have big plans for this place...a resort, a retreat center for pastors, a school for farmers, and a school for the kids. Pray for funds, and pray that God will have his way. Our team decided to stay and hang out for a bit.
Meet my little friends Kristine and Lili. We met them in the deaf community and they latched onto me. Both of them are hearing, but one or both of their parents is probably deaf. Kristine's hair is tinging orange, meaning she doesn't have the proper nutrients. This little girl is one of the most strong-willed children I've ever met, but I fell in love.
I held her as we sang with the deaf community and watched her light up as she hummed and moved her hands with the melody. Pray that she knows Jesus at an early age. Pray she comes to know the Lord as her Provider and the one who loves her more than anyone ever will!

In every village, we walked from house to house, sharing the gospel, praying for people, and offering to help them. We really wanted to be the hands and feet of Jesus to show His love. Our offer to help was foreign to them, but they got a kick out of watching us pump water. It also gave us opportunities to minister to those nearby. This was in Zorange, a village in the mountains, and one of my favorite places.
This was our second mountain stop - a school and a hundred kiddos craving attention! We sang with them, blew bubbles, played, picked them up, and shared the gospel. The joy is indescribable. They followed us through fields as we shared the gospel from house to house. Michael was definitely a favorite.
Emily, Laura, Brandon, Stephen, Vanessa, Christy, and our translator, Kinsley, were my team for the day as we painted a house in Leveque. It took us less than 15 minutes to clean out the whole house to prepare it for paint. Incredibly humbling, incredibly eye-opening. My room and bathroom are bigger than this whole house. But this family was so excited for the paint job.
The kids wanted to help, and I couldn't resist them. They are sweethearts!! Again, I fell in love. I had the privilege of telling them the story of Jesus and hearing the little girl tell me that the only way to follow Jesus is to give him her whole heart and soul. From the mouths of children, I am humbled. I pray they stay strong and grow to lead their country!
We loved Kinsley, our translator. Kinsley lost both of his parents and has a rough home life, but we had the privilege of meeting and praying with his family. He and Heath had a shared interest in music. Looks a little like Usher, right? He is passionate about the Lord, his people, and worship. I pray he continues to stand strong and share the gospel!
This ambulance was a gift to MOH only months before the earthquake. It saved countless lives, and was one of the only vehicles able to weave through the rubble-laden streets. Beauty in brokenness, remember? God knows what we need before we need it.
Our team at an orphanage stop. Haiti is infiltrated with non-profits, and Village of Hope is another one. I pray they can all band together and help Haiti as a whole.
Meet Soudnel, but we called him Monks. He is one of the 60+ orphans that find a home at MOH. We went down to the infant room every day to play with this little guy, his sister, and several others. Check out that smile! I pray he grows up strong and loved and with a knowledge of Jesus. Vanessa loved this little guy.
Oh, Pierre. John and several others on our team fell in love with this little guy. He stole our hearts. When we prayed the Lord would break our hearts for what breaks His, we never imagined we would see the sweet innocence and joy from this little guys who has a brain tumor. We sang "Jesus loves me" while he hummed along. Praise the Lord that he has a family who is adopting him and helping him get medical care. I pray the surgery goes well!
Our days were long and hot. Taking a short afternoon snooze and enjoying a cold glass of coke before heading back out.
Meet Gilbert, new father, passionate man of God, and a leader of his people. Gilbert was one of our translators. We were able to meet his wife who was a couple days past her due date to deliver their first baby. Gilbert liked to take us on shortcuts through uncharted territory on our village visits. He asked us to take his picture in front of the banana tree. These grow wild all over the country.
Cimounet is a village by the sea and my favorite stop. In it, I saw the lush, jungle beauty that Haiti can be if people are taught to care for the land. I love that people are unashamed to write Jesus on the side of their boats. I met Kinsley's family in this village, saw the beauty of Haiti as God intended, and got to love on kids. It was a beautiful day.

Stay tuned! More stories and pictures to come. Thank you to all who prayed for us. The Lord did big things!