Saturday, October 31, 2009

:)



Haitians are legit- I wish I could do this...




My teaching techniques may not be ideal all the time but I would like to share with you some that have worked extremely lately. We have problems focusing... lets just say often. One of Henley's wonderful habits is to play with his pencil like its a plane and he drops it about 10 times each hour while playing with it. I'm not exaggerating when I say we got to the point where he spend 10% of his school day laying on his chair looking for his pencil. I told him I didn't care if he dropped his pencil on accident but the playing needed to stop because it wastes too much time. This worked for an hour, then back to playing. As it has been an ongoing problem, I got to the point where I jokingly told him that if he dropped his pencil one more time because he was playing with it I would tie it to his wrist all the way until lunch time, and he would even have to go downstairs and eat with it tied to him. Not more than a minute later he dropped it... so I found a shoestring and tied it to his wrist. He got made fun of by his brothers... peer pressure has power. And guess what... that was last Tuesday and he hasn't dropped his pencil more than twice since then. He though it was funny, so we took pictures- I still can't believe it actually worked :)
And Trey, the poor kid has an attention span of 10 seconds. If I can't keep him interested we are doomed. So I decided to make him teacher on Tuesday because he would not listen to what I was telling him to do. And guess what? It was the most productive day with Trey that I've had yet. He had to read me the directions and then I said and wrote the answer, every time making common mistakes that he usually would make and he always corrected me perfectly! When he taught me how to read, I said every word he wouldn't know wrong on purpose and he helped me sound them out. Making him sound out a word that he thinks he can't read is like pulling teeth, but for some reason it was more fun when i "didn't know" how to. This is him telling me to focus when I started to play with my pencil... haha :)
And Mr. Carmelo is a punk- loves to pretend like he doesn't know anything and see if he can get me to make his school easier. So I had a pop-wow with Licia (his mom) to figure out what he should/shouldn't know and I make him do push-ups if he tells me he doesn't know how to do something that he does. And we've already made progress- amazing how much progress you can make with a threat of 5 push-ups!
I'm having a blast figuring out the whole teacher thing and getting to know these 3 kids so well- they're awesome!
Somehow last week flew by even though I had pink eye which gave me constant headaches- . ALL day Saturday (and I mean since 8 in the morning until 6pm I worked on my midterm that was due. That was fun! (sarcasm) But since Nickenson is somewhat high maintenance, and I refuse to do schoolwork without a kid in my lap, it gave me the opportunity to spend the whole day with a little girl named Love Babie. Yes you read that right... her twin sister's name is Babie Love. Oh Haiti... anyways. She's malnourished and her skin looks like a dinosaur's skin, and she has a cough that makes her puke when she eats, but other than that shes the happiest kid ever: (not in this pic... but its the only one i took)
So after I finished I went to eat dinner, and remembered I had missed the weekly weigh-ins I usually help Licia with for the kids on the Medika Mamba program.... too bad because I probably would have made a fool of myself in front of all the staff here jumping up and down, like I did in private upstairs when Licia told me Nickenson gained over a pound in this last week!!!!!! AHHH life is good. He was 9.8 last week and hit the scale at 10.10 Saturday! (Keep in mind he's 10 months old, so we still have a LONG way to go) but finally we're turned in the right direction!! Stuffing his face:

Keep posted for the next post aka: this mornings events... hint- Green Eggs and Spam :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Another gone home...

A little baby died tonight… Gilderson. I noticed him the first day I got here but didn’t spent much time with him. Every time I went to get him to spend time with him I got distracted by a crying kid, and then Nickenson came in and took most of my free time. I don’t know why God protected my heart this way- I can’t count how many times I almost picked him up and took him to my room. He was doing extremely well (another reason why I took other kids before him to work with); he had come in severely malnourished but after being here for three months was doing amazing. Yesterday he got a high fever and today they sent him to the hospital, which sent him back. He died about 2 hours ago. Not an hour before I was holding his hand and singing with Nickenson in my lap… I watched as Lori prepared him for burial. That was a first for me… I wrote this just thinking about this boy specifically but also all the kids around the world who die or suffer from preventable or unknown causes.... some of it refers to Berlancia, Tex-naider, Sabrina, and the list goes on… Some of the descriptions are of kids who came in and we thought they’d die and they havn’t… like Nickenson.
The world he has lived in is nothing like mine. Love and grace- replaced by emptiness and fear. Hunger is a perpetual pain… every day’s a battle. His eyes are empty, no hope to show- what is hope? He doesn’t even long for the world I’m in. He’s never seen it, so it doesn’t exist. He doesn’t understand why I daze down at him, why I sing to him, why I do anything I can to get him to eat, and why I hold him close; he is still and won’t make movement, no life. Finally a glance my way, have I reached him? No… I moved my eyes and he didn’t follow. This child, can’t be more than a couple years old, what must he have gone through to be this way… his loose and wrinkled discolored skin, hangs over his bones; they jut out, revealing his fragile frame. His patchy hair is discolored and frail. In his palm, he clings to a lock of hair that he ripped off his head. His hands clenched tightly, reek of rotten skin. The cloth tied around his tiny waste slips off and exposes the yellow diarrhea he sits in daily. Why this child, why any child?
He cries out of discomfort when I touch him. His irritated squeal pleads for me to leave him be; his body stiffens, begging to be put down… but I refuse, I won’t give up, he’s captured my heart. I know there’s a soul in there somewhere. Behind the neglect, the hunger, the sadness… behind the empty stare, the emotion free face- I know there is a boy. I know with work, and help from God one day he could see that the world can be different, a place for love, for hope, for happiness, for learning. But my will to bring out that boy has come too late, and it must not have been part of God’s plan.
A harsh and empty world was all he knew; I held him for an insignificant amount of time- held him tight and prayed. That’s all I could give, that’s all time gave me. One more point awarded to the silent epidemic- an unfair battle, another life ended before it began. AIDS. Malnourishment. Abuse. Poverty. Burns. Neglect. Disease. Unknown. The endless list of preventable COD’s intimidates me. Is there even a chance for hope? His life became part of a growing statistic; yet through it all, I know God was there. Now he is in the perfect place, the place where there is nothing that can hurt him. In heaven I know he is that boy. A joyful, healthy, smiling, beautiful boy… he’s loved. But still my heart yearns for him back; a chance to give him what he never had. In a life here on earth, what could he have been? A man- honest and humble and true, I’ll never know. God’s timing is a constant struggle for me. Why then… why him? Yet truly believe through searching deep, every day’s hardship has some sort of silver lining- even if a rusted silver. With every child I’ve loved, comes a lesson to cherish- and he is no different. I’ll strive each day to do what I was made to do; to love and be a light unto others as best as I can- And leave God to the rest...

Life here is a roller coaster, and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I'm happy he's no longer in pain, and I'm so thankful for all the kids that RHFH has been able to save and give the world to. Whatever he died from could have easily killed him in the states too, we'll never know; but I do know that for 3 months this kid was loved, fed, and shown God's grace under the care of the staff here at the rescue center- praise God for that.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Misconceptions

It's been a good and busy week, I'll be ready for the weekend to come. We got TONS of donations yesterday but it's too long of a story for me to have the patience to write, so once Licia writes about it on her blog I'll post a link :)

Nickenson's doing the same... hoping when we weigh him next he'll not have lost weight again...

This is a conversation I had with a thirteen year old girl last night… her name is Ilene (pronounced ee-lehn). She comes to the clinic once a month to pick up meds for her skin condition and school supplies. She lives far away so she comes to spend the night so she can get in line early the next morning. I am writing it just as we spoke it, broken and simple since it was in Creole, and I’m still not perfect…

Ilene: Hi! Remember me? (hugs me) I love you!!!

Me: Of course! How are you?

Ilene: hungry. Give me food.

Me: Did you come in time for dinner?

Ilene: No. My stomach hurts

Me: You know that if you don’t come for dinner that the food will be gone.

Ilene: I know, but I had school. I’m hungry. Is your stomach full?

Me: (feeling somewhat bad) yes.

Ilene: Give me clothes

Me: I don’t have any to give you.

Ilene: I only have these (she pulls on her shirt and skirt)

Me: That’s good you have those! Who gave them to you?

Ilene: Licia… Where’s your baby? (Referring to Nickenson)

Me: He’s not my baby, he’s sleeping.

Ilene: He’s not yours?! Do you love him?

Me: Yes.

Ilene: Then why don’t you take him?

Me: I don’t want him.

Ilene: (shocked by my blunt answer) Why?

Me: I am 20 years old, don’t have a house or money to buy milk for him. I can’t pay for him to go to school and I don’t have clothes or shoes to give him.

Ilene: What about your mom? Can she give you clothes to give him?

Me: But then she would be his mom and not me! I can’t take care of a kid, so I do not want a kid.

Ilene: (obviously never having heard this perspective before) But you love him!

Me: I love all these kids but I don’t want 75 kids! I love you but I am not your mom…

Ilene: laughter. (with at least some understanding) Ohhh. Ok then, he is not yours. Please come sit and talk with me over there.

Me: OK

Ilene: (beginning to braid my hair) Your hair is pretty.

Me: Yours too! Who braided it?

Ilene: Some lady, it’s not pretty though. I want your hair.

Me: But my hair won’t even stick! (referring to how their hair stays exactly where they put it).

Ilene: But it’s long and ‘cheve blan’! (white peoples hair) Black people’s hair is ugly.

Me: NO! I think it’s beautiful, I think it’s even better than mine.

Ilene: I think white people are pretty.

Me: Me too. I think black people are pretty too.

Ilene: hmm… (as if she had never thought of the concept of more than one race being pretty)

Me: Do you have any sisters or brothers?

Ilene: Yes, 3 sisters and 2 brothers (then she went off to name every person in her family including aunts, uncles grandparents etc.) Do you have any?

Me: one sister, one brother.

Ilene: That’s all!!! Wow, do you have food where you are from?

Me: Yes. We eat some different kinds of food.

Ilene: When you are where you are from, is your stomach full?

Me: Yes.

Ilene: Do you love Haiti?

Me: So much, Haiti is like my home.

Ilene: Why? Haiti is so bad and the US is so good.

Me: Why do you think that?

Ilene: I’ve seen it on TV.

Me: Have you ever seen Haiti on TV?

Ilene: Yes…

Me: What does Haiti look like on TV? What do the TV people look like?

Ilene: Well, good and pretty and the people on TV are pretty and have clothes and eat.

Me: Do they show your home on TV? Or your neighbors homes?

Ilene: (laughing) nooo… just the pretty people’s homes.

Me: Same with the U.S. All they show on the TV is the good things, just like all they show about Haiti are the good things.

Ilene: There are bad things at your home?

Me: Of course! There are bad things in every place. Good things and bad things, just different good things and bad things.

Ilene: Oh….

… and the conversation went on and on.

The sentences exchanged between Ilene and I were so simple, yet in my opinion SO loaded. I hate that some Haitians have been taught that the US is "better" than Haiti. What I'm about to describe is hard for me to describe logically and get out how I want it to sound- so hang with me as I try ;)

…In America there are girls who would KILL to be as stunning as Ilene- Long, skinny, toned, dark or tanned, beautiful eyelashes, ethnic looking. In Haiti girls long to be curvy, light-skinned, long straight hair, blue or green eyes. Why is it that our world can’t just get to a place of gratefulness with the cards God dealt us?

And WHYYYY does everyone (including Haitians who have NEVER been to the US) think the US is so stinking amazing??? I don’t understand! Yes, there is an abundance of resources. Yes- there are many opportunities. Yes- things are more equal legally. Yes. There are great things about the US. There is amazing medical technology… But that says NOTHING about the quality of life of individuals there… just compare suicide rates for Haiti and the US. Maybe sometimes the things we find great on paper don’t quite measure up after all. Maybe life is simpler than we make it in the US. Maybe our quality of life is how we make it, and the worse we start out, the easier it is to find hope to improve. Maybe...

One thing that REALLY bugs me is when people talk about how those poor children finally get to get out of Haiti, and go to a better place and get a real family. How awful it is that they come from the poverty-stricken, lost island of Haiti. Haiti is the most beautiful place I have ever been. The land itself, and the people- inside and out. The people here (with some exceptions- just as their are exceptions in the US) love their kids so much and do everything possible to cover their needs. Many of them just can't. Many in the U.S. don't either- especially when it comes to emotional needs. Many of my friends growing up didn't have good role models; or had parents who gave them everything in the world except for time. Yes, there is major corruption in Haiti and major poverty and a major lack of education. But how I see it America has major consumption/economic problems, major rising mental health issues, and major ignorance issues.

My point is not to bash either the US or Haiti, I just think too many people see third-world countries as miserable places, and places like the US as this land of Gold; and in my opinion that’s not the case at all. There’s more hope, joy, fellowship, REAL friendships, happiness here than I could have ever imagined. And the families here are T.I.G.H.T. And best of all, people are real. I mean if they don’t like you, they tell you. They mean what they say and they say what they mean. If they like you, they tell you; and if they say they love you they will do ANYTHING for you. I have no doubt that some of the friends I have made on the streets of Haiti would do anything in their power to help me if I needed help. There are problems everywhere in the world, some are just a bit more hidden. Haiti's problems are out in the open- ribs popping out of a kid are harder to cover up than a dysfunctional family. I just think it's important for me to say this because often I will tell the stories of the bad stuff: the hurting, the starving, the bleeding, the neglected. But I don't want people to think that is what makes Haiti. The hope that Haitians have for their future is what I see in Haiti, and I praise God for all the GOOD he blesses Haiti with.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Time flies when you're having fun!

Another weeks gone by and time seems to disappear here. There’s always some need to be filled here, and I think that’s why time goes so quick. No matter how hard or fast you work to get stuff done, at the end of the day you wish you could have accomplished more. Licia and Lori are two of the hardest workers I have ever met. They go through more emotions in a week than some people do in a lifetime. Witnessing parents laughing as their children are dying, holding that child and not having time to process the death of the 2 year old whose body lies lifeless, emaciated, in your hands as the next patient is bleeding profusely from a severe motorcycle accident. Having to fire a staff member who steals or doesn’t do their job while they plead that their whole family is going to die because of you taking away their income. Waking up early to get office hours in before clinic and going to bed late knowing they will do the same the next day. Trying to teach a Haitian mother that instead of selling her chicken’s eggs to buy rice for her kids, the eggs would be more nourishment for her children, only to see her a month later asking you to take in her swollen kids with kwash and feed them. Educating people about STDs and telling them that they have HIV; and them not believing or understanding and they come back after they got pregnant and had a baby who obviously tests HIV+. Experiencing the joy of an orphan finally going to their adoptive home but grieving because that child has been in your home for 2 years and knows you as mommy. Being discouraged by the never-ending line of sick, injured, diseased people; yet praising God for all he allows them to do to help. Their lives aren’t easy and their perseverance is inspiring. Truly.

I love everything I get to do here. I was teaching the boys about the body- organs and veins etc and telling them that blood was blue. They didn’t believe me until I showed them my veins (you can’t really see on a black-skinned person). They were so cute “Wait until we tell mommy, she won’t believe us!” screams Trey. He often goes to mom telling her what he learns, thinking he’ll change her life with his new-found knowledge. It’s fun to teach such an enthusiastic learner. We traced their bodies and every day I make a new organ for them to glue on themselves and we learn about it. We went on a 7 mile hike Friday and it was amazing. I love the walks we go on… narrow paths through corn farms and friendly communities in between wide gravel roads, often muddy, peacefully quiet- besides the boys and a couple donkeys, stunning mountains and ocean views, often pink, orange, yellow, stunning sunsets, and friendly people passing once in a while; some on donkeys or horses, some driving tractors, some walking. I love Haiti.

My online English class is the hardest thing about my current life. I’ve always had an easy time with English courses and never gotten less than an A- this might just kill that. It’s an argumentative essay course and killing me. The formats my prof assigns are just plain odd, and hard to follow and boring and hard to find motivation for; plus the internet time I have is hard to spend researching and writing when I’d rather be emailing or facebooking friends. It’s hard to focus on writing an essay that I don’t care about when I have Nickenson, or the boys downstairs are calling me to play soccer. The boys in the rescue center are SO great and besides Nickenson they consume most of my free time. J Soccer is their favorite thing for me to join them in, and I can’t say that I’m as good as them, but I’m definitely improving and having fun doing it!

Nickenson has lost a pound... we took him off the medika mamba program thinking his uking might be intolerance to the peanut butter- pray it helps! I am with him SOOO much and its discouraging that he lost more than 10% of his weight in a week... but his smiles keep me going. If he continues to lose I'll take him at night and try to get some extra calories in him. The rescue center admitted 2 new kwash kids- a boy and a girl. The little girl (about 4 yrs old) refuses to eat and they had to put a feeding tube in her and she kept ripping it out, so her hands are in socks, taped and pinned to her shorts. She won't make eye contact and sits groaning all day long... hopefully the food shes getting through the tube will help her have more life. The boy (about 6 yrs old) is so swollen that he can barely stand. His privates are the size of a baseball and yet he smiles bigger than any kid in the place. He says please and thank you and when I was feeding him tonight he said he didn't want to eat; but after I told him it would make him feel better and it was good for him he smiled and forced himself to finish. I can't express how blessed I am to get to be around these kids :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Great Weekend, Greater God.

Everything is going GREAT! We went to GLA after church to visit the adoptive parents of Jonas, the blind child I worked with while I was there. I saw some of my kids- and it was the perfect day! They are such a cool family:
We ended going to a (ridiculously crazy nice) hotel and hung out with them and had dinner. I couldn't have enjoyed Sunday more... Rebekah and I:
School was AMAZING today, we were all energetic and happy and worked hard and I couldn't have asked for a better day. Oh, and Nickenson was there too :) Not for the best reasons though :( His fever has come back, and a swollen lymphoid under his armpit has at least doubled in size since He came.
He was gaining weight but now is not eating well again- I got his to eat a whole yogurt today!!!!!! It took since 9:00 this morning, it is now 10:00pm. 13 hours... haha. Some people will see this as patience; I am telling you its me being stubborn. This kid will gain weight and he will live! (of course this is all God-willing, but I obviously want him to.) I will continue to take him during the school day, I like to keep a fan on him and a damp towel to try to keep his temp down, and he sleeps most of the time since he's so sick. When he wakes up he cries and then sees me and smiles :) ahh, he melts my heart. I'll keep everyone posted on him... thanks for the continued prayers!!

Why am I always surprised by the perfection of God and His ways, when everything He does is perfect? You'd think I'd learn, or get used to it or something... nope. Once again, in awe of His Perfection:

So Sunday we drove into Port for church, and I can't tell you how amazing the service was for me. The speaker was so honest and spoke about his struggles with humility. His first thing that really struck me was when he said that we don't grow a relationship with God. You either are in a relationship with God or you aren't. I realized: there's nothing in between. Now, within that I assume one can either have a good or bad relationship. There are places we can grow within our relationships but if we've initiated it, its there. So the feelings of closeness to God will come and go but thats not what it's about; thats just icing on the cake. And then he went on to talk about obedience. And how thats all God wants from us. If we obey Him- do His will and give what He asks of us, then He will continue to bless us.
What I have though about since Sunday is how the blessings we receive from God are EXTRA. He does not owe them to us. If we feel great about what we are doing after then it is a gift from God. He had blessed me SOO much with this. Too much- to the point where I started to doubt my obedience and question His will for me. This is me being foolish. I'm glad I'm foolish because it adds to why I need God :) Why He made me to be a part of this mission in Haiti I will never know. Why He blessed me with the passion for it, I will never know. Why He puts all these doubts in my head? Because it has made me realize the blessings He continues to pour on me. Which brings me to another point the speaker touched on. You might be familiar with the worship song "Let it Rain..."
the chorus is simple:
Let it rain, let it rain.
Open the floodgates of Heaven
let it rain.
Christians (including myself) ask for God to pour His love, His will, His blessings, Himself onto us, to break us, but how many of us pull an umbrella out when it starts to pour?
I did... He blessed me so much, gave me the life I've ached for since I came back from Haiti the first time(plus some), he brought me back homei and what do I do? Doubt him- pull up the umbrella because it started to pour. The joy in my life, the pain in my life, the brokenness I asked for, the kids I love; they all were given to me after I prayed for them. Then when He blessed me with it all I started to doubt. Maybe these things aren't from God? It's too good... I love my life so much. How can I be so happy doing these things that are supposedly God's will when so many people struggle with doing God's will? I imagine God was laughing at me. He has given me everything; and just as easily He can take it away.... but none of that matters. I just need to OBEY him; there's nothing else to it! If God has chosen to bless me with happiness right now, who am I to doubt that happiness!! And if He choses to take that away, I still know where God wants me right now. I know He made me for this lifestyle- everything about me is perfect for these kids. My stubbornness, my determination, the fact that I don't really care about a lot of things other people do, the fact that my heart breaks just enough for these kids that I work for them but also the fact that the sometimes hopeless situations seem not to depress me. All me strengths and weaknesses make me perfect for my current life.
I can't describe Haiti like I want to- and I want everyone to understand it; and thats been a problem in my life. But I can tell stories, and share what I feel (which is often hard for me). But God has called me to this and I must obey. Because thats the only thing that will make me real. Without obedience, there is no relationship- Christians have one job: to obey God's will. Through that we will be loved by God, we will grow, we'll hurt, rejoice, be broken, be repaired only to fall even harder and be broken again, help others, hurt others, laugh, sin, live.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's Friday :)

It's already Friday, and even though the week was great I am ready for the weekend. Ready to spend more time with the kids downstairs, and just have two days without school. We have had fun now that Carmelo is back from his trip to the states talking about everything he did there and enjoying some of the art supplies they brought back for school. The boys LOVE a bag of sponges and we had some fun sponging stars onto eachothers' faces.

Trey:
Henley:
Carmelo:

I have been a little sick, possibly why I am ready for a break. My whole body broke out in a rash- red dots covered me head to toe last Saturday. Then we went to church on Sunday, we drove into Port for service. Half way through I got really dizzy and went to lay down outside on some grass. The rash got worse and didn't start to go away until yesterday. It was accompanied by a fever which I was able to keep under control with Tylenol. I felt better around Tuesday and then spent all night Wednesday throwing up, so Thursday was a long day- not much energy on my side and overflowing on the boys' side. Haha. Today I am feeling 98% and last night was a blast. The container that the Rescue Center has been waiting for finally arrived and we got our first truckload to go through. Everything from meds to fabric to clothing, canned food, school supplies for the community, soap- SO MUCH STUFF! It was exciting and took a while to go through everything, tonight we'll have more.
Nickenson is doing AMAZING. Well, considering I thought he would die the day he got here his progress has been miracle after miracle. He coos now when I talk to him and gasps in excitement when I kiss him. His ribs are filling in and he is starting not to vomit everything he eats. He is no longer losing weight, and has actually started to gain. He is now 10 months and just over nine pounds. His fever is under control and his muscles have started to relax. He will open and close his hands and look at them- HUGE progress. I take him every day after school and have started to mix his meds with yogurt and feed him pieces of cheese which he loves. He hasn't vomited any of his meds on me for 3 days now PRAISE GOD! He has become a distraction to my online class... this pic about sums up how I write essays... or rather what I do instead:
Yesterday we had a little boy come in whose eye ball had exploded. Malnourishment is not a pretty thing people. It was SO sad. His other eye was close to doing the same, and he could not see. His hands were freezing and his feet and legs were swollen with kwash. He was lifeless, and didn't even cry in pain despite the CRAZY amount of agony his body must have been through. After being here and hour or so he started gasping, and we all knew he was dying. His mom had come with him, his little sister and his older brother and was lying about everything. The situation was chaotic and sad. His name was Peterson and he died about 5 hours after getting here. They will bury him this morning, as his mom left right after he died- not wanting the responsibility of washing and dressing him and digging a grave for him. I've been told this is pretty common...
We have many creature friends here in Haiti, but this one was picture worthy. Disgusting, and it may look small but think of the size of a toilet. This thing was at least 5 inches long.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Last night’s devotional thoughts: bits and pieces from my mind.

First off this is long, and goes on and on. I was going to try to type about something else but my mind wandered and this came out. I didn’t mean for it to turn out like this but it did, and it’s typed so I’m posting it. Enjoy, or ignore, or laugh at it ( I know I will if I ever go back and read it) … just my silly mind churning.

Selfless. I’ve struggled with this word a lot in the last year. What does it mean to be selfless when it comes to working for God? With my current life I get a lot of “If other people were as selfless as you our world would be better.” It makes me feel weird and think about what being selfless looks like. In my mind a selfless person gives from every area of their lives for no reason other than following God’s teachings in the Bible. The selfless person is not rewarded for giving, they don’t give in a manner that is boastful or self-serving and their actions are driven by the will to please God, not the will to please themselves. Unfortunately when I lay down to go to sleep at night, if I’m not completely exhausted, I lay there and think too much. Lately I’ve been thinking about how God works when it comes to his plan for us. After I came from Haiti the first time I wanted SO bad to go back. I prayed that I could go back. Nothing happened; it wasn’t until way later that RHFH rescue center came into my life as an option. The dictionary definition of selfish:

1.

devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

2.

characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself: selfish motives

…By this definition I can honestly tell you that me being in Haiti is purely selfish. I like the people here, the kids here, the culture, the music, the lifestyle, the fact that everyone is thankful for everything. It makes me feel like life is more than worth living and that’s why I come here. I know the drastic difference between a kid who has gotten food and love and one that has been neglected and starved. I know that a child who hasn’t received proper care will benefit from even just an hour a day of my time. It makes me SO happy when these kids take their first step at the age of 3, or mumble their first word because I taught them it. I love working with Henley, Trey and Carmelo and being able to teach them in Christian books, because every day I'm learning too. These are ALL selfish reasons… Does good come out of it? I think so, yes. Do I deserve this life? No… Am I thankful for it? SO much- but I hate the fact that what I love is looked at as a “good” thing in our society; something that a selfless person would do. It might be, but that doesn’t mean I’m selfless in any way- no one is. It makes me wonder if I am doing it for me or for God. Would I be doing it if people thought it was wrong? Would I move here if everyone saw it as a foolish thing and if I had no support back home? I don’t know, I like to think yes but I really will never know because that’s not my reality.

I have often prayed for God’s desire to become my heart’s desire. Did God answer that prayer, or am I just content doing this because the people in my life support me… and it’s easy to think I am doing work for God when I’m really just going through the motions. And if God did answer that prayer, and my desire and love for this life is through Him then what’s next? In my mind, giving should not be easy. It should be sacrificial, and from the heart I don’t know if this is what God has in mind, but I’ve always felt that giving should be hard. I don’t have a whole bunch of money to just give up and stuff to sell. I don’t know what to give. I have nothing to give except time. I am giving that time to something that brings me joy, I get to hang out with kids all day… think about it! My current life could not be any more perfect in my eyes, but what about in God’s eyes? I drive myself nuts with these questions and thoughts, and I think sometimes revelations come out of it and other times I just don’t get much sleep. So far, no revelation. How do we ever know if we are doing stuff for God, or for ourselves; is it possible that it can be for both and the same?

Sometimes I feel God’s presence so strongly that it makes me smile in the middle of whatever I’m doing. Other times I just don’t feel him. I think all Christians go through ups and down in their relationships with God, just as we do with friends, or just as couples do. If we know in our hearts that God is there, but struggle with our faith at times, would God rather us turn away until we fall and then return, or go through the motions until we “feel” him? I feel like a lot of times I go through the motions. Like I know what the bible tells us to do, so I do it because I figure that even if I don’t feel really close to God I’m still working for Him. Or is everything based on intention with God… if we give, but don’t do it with the right intention does it matter to Him anyway? Or are our motions without good intentions just as pointless as not doing anything at all. Some of the strongest Christians I’ve met all have a great testimony, one of huge trials, where they weren’t living the Christian lifestyle and then made a decision to devote their lives to God at some point. Or they grew up Christian, went through a rebellious stage and then came back to Christ with a burning passion for Him. At this point they gave up their old lifestyle or huge house, or started work in ministry.

I have always believed in God. I never won’t, I know he’s there and it’s a fact I can’t deny… but there are times when I become a lazy Christian and don’t pursue Him and his work. I take God for granted, and sometimes I wish I knew what life felt like without Him because it might make me appreciate life with Him more. I don’t do the typical “bad” thing, I don’t murder, I don’t steal, do drugs, curse, drink, I try not to lie etc. But I also don’t always talk to people about God when I’m given a perfect opportunity, or treat people like I should, or give a task 100%. These are just as bad in my mind. So will I go through the "rebellious" stage? I don’t think so- it’s just not in me. I can’t deny God’s existence because in my mind that would just be ridiculous. So when do I change, where’s my big moment where I all the sudden can’t do anything but think of God in everything I do. Or do I not get one… or is mine gradual, just a continuous growth of love for God that will never be perfect but strengthen with time. I can’t wait for an answer, so in the meantime I work in areas that God’s words teach, and those times that I feel close to Him I know it’s all worth it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Nickenson







3 days, and deeply in love.
This is Nickenson. He came here on Thursday, and is HIV positive. Lori told me about him, because I had asked her about HIV kids and she said they rarely took them and that pretty much every one had died within 6 hours of coming. Nickenson's mom died and his dad has been caring for him... the best he could. He's extremely malnourished and sick. He's had a fever for over 3 months now and his dad just couldn't do it anymore, he needed to go find work. On Friday I took him right after school with the boys and had him for 5 hours. He vomited anything he drank and couldn't keep down his meds. Every day I've taken him and he's still carrying a high fever. He's continued to lose weight, and has no meat on his bones. He needs prayer. Today, I got a smile from him and it melted my heart.... The day he got here I asked Lori if she thought he'd make it and she said that she didn't think he would- she has seen too many kids like him. I still hold hope, I havn't had the experience she has with these kids and I am convinced that God can perform a miracle and save him if it's in His plan. I just couldn't believe I got the smile- one of the haitian staff walked in the room when he was smiling and said "he knows how to smile?" :)
I don't know if he's ever smiled before but it literally made my week- I've been so worried for him and still am, but I couldn't help think back to Tex-snaider, a kid that I had at GLA for almost two months. He passed away without smiling once for me, and it broke my heart. It still does- he was over two years old and I worked with him every day, and his life had been so rough that I couldn't break his depression.

The way Nickenson looks at me is indescribable- so pure. It's like he's never looked into someone else's eyes before. He just stares... None of us know if Nickelson will make it, but please pray for him, his body- that he breaks through the fever and begins to gain weight. That he continues to smile and fight for his life. I thank God for getting to love on this kiddo, he's my current "project" and the first thought in my head when I wake up- I love that feeling... it was the same with Berlancia :)
hope everyone has a blessed week!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Forts, Celebration, and Rainbows


So the fort we went to last Friday was probably the coolest thing I’ve seen. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older that I appreciate historical stuff more, or maybe it’s because I’m in Haiti- either way it was awesome. The drive there took a good 2 hours both ways and we took a huge full bus. We wound on the gravel road, and I’m proud to say I didn’t get sick. Danger signs were scattered on the road- it was hilarious. One woman in particular was so scared that we were going to die- the whole bus sang worship songs before the trip and prayed for a safe drive. During the drive they were praying we’d make it and same on the way back. Once we got there it was about half a mile hike up the mountain to the base of the fort… here’s what it looked like from where we parked:

The Haitian men were like little boys, exploring every crevice of the place. There is one part of the wall which has an opening about the size of a small teenager. You can fit your head into it and look to the left where it stretches about 20 feet, only 2 feet wide. And then nothing… no one knows what it was for, there were many discussions but it remains a mystery. The smaller Haitian men had a blast squeezing back as far as they could into it until they couldn’t fit any further and then coming out covered in dust. I can’t even express how happy the men were to play there. I had walked across the mountain to a separate “building”… more remains, only to look back and see about 10 middle-aged men running, crouched down low to the ground, carrying their imaginary guns- acting as though they were soldiers being invaded by the French. It was a blast… and once we got back to the clinic, in the hot bus we had a mini worship service led by one of the men to thank God for the great day. There’s something about the sincerity of Haitians when they praise God that is so honest, so real…

School has been going well, the boys are high energy, but also smart and well-behaved so as long as I have energy and encourage them they do great. Their reading has already improved! Carmelo left for the states with his mom and they will be gone for 2 weeks. He was SO excited to go, and it will be a fun trip for them- I am having him journal everyday and take lots of pictures. One of his assignments when he gets back will be a book of his trip.

There has been a 3 day celebration going on outside our gate for Cazale, each area in Haiti has their day of the year to celebrate, and of course it’s necessary to celebrate the day before and after. Huge bonfires light up the night sky, and music has been blaring nonstop since Saturday night. It goes all day and all night. Popular Haitian bands travel from across Haiti to perform live, and it’s pretty much like having them in my room at night. It’s lively and exciting but hard to get the boys to focus with all the noise during school, and after not sleeping 2 nights ago, I resorted to taking Benadryl 2 nights ago. I slept for 10 hours J

Celebration means chaos for the clinic and rescue center. Lori and the Haitian nurses are up all night sewing people up. It is Lori’s least favorite time of the year… drunken men come in with injuries at 3am and need to be sewn up. She tells me many of them pass out on the table and wake up to see a white woman with a needle sewing them up and freak out. Lori printed out welcome signs and pictures and had them strung across the streets in front of our house, and then inside the clinic… it’s very festive, yesterday the craziness started to calm down

Yesterday I walked out into the yard and saw the biggest rainbow I have ever seen, there were actually 2 but the one was gorgeous. The pictures don’t even get close to doing it justice (i wish you could all have seen it), but they give an idea. The kids just learned what the rainbow meant in bible lessons, and we finger painted a rainbow... so it was cool to be able to remind them of God’s promise to us with such a great visual.


When Trey, the youngest has a really fun/good day at school he always says, “Teacher, thank you for you finish school wif us!” so cute :)

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