Monday, October 30, 2017

Haiti October 2017: Not Forgotten

"He who counts the stars and calls them by name is in no danger of forgetting his own children."
~C.H. Spurgeon~

Waking up Sunday morning, I immediately recognized the familiar sounds of the compound: the ladies working in the kitchen, a rooster crowing, an engine rattling nearby. I also notice a few less-normal sounds. Talking and chatter, below my window, people are already gathering and working at the church.

It’s interesting to me how quickly our bodies and minds begin to adjust to new circumstances in ways that we would have never expected; the way we start to “get used to” things we’re not used to experiencing.

On this trip one of those things is definitely the bugs, namely the cockroaches. If you would have told me a week prior to this that I would become used to seeing and working around cockroaches (without freaking out) I would have told you, you were insane, but that’s exactly what has happened.

As I roll over I take my ear plugs out and grab my water bottle, I glance at the floor between our beds and notice two cockroaches, one certainly dead (as it is on it’s back) and the other’s status is unknown to me. I don’t even bother checking, it is too early in the morning for me to muster the energy to kill it, even if it were alive. I’m pretty sure it’s not anyways.

I’m confident I already know how these two cockroaches met their end: they must have foolishly entered Olivia and Alexa’s bed last night. For whatever reason, no one else has had problems with the roaches getting into our mosquito netting with us at night, but they must have a special attraction to Olivia, as she has experienced it more than once. On the first night she told me that she tried swatting/slapping them away, but that they would come back, so she has now resorted to squeezing them, to ensure their death, and then tossing them out of her bed. I can only assume that’s what happened here.

I smile a little nervously, because while I want to rejoice in the fact that two more cockroaches are dead, I also realize that for every two cockroaches that lose their life, there’s an unknown number hiding in and among our room.

I am sure to look inside my shoes before I slip them on.

I grab my clothes and head to the bathroom, where I diligently shake out every article of clothing before slipping them on. This is a lesson, also learned the hard way, though gratefully, not on my own….

Last night, Tim had gone in to to take a shower before bed, I was brushing my teeth while he was getting everything he needed set up. After grabbing his towel off the hook in his bedroom, he had brought it into the bathroom draped over his arm. He was standing there talking to me, asking how I was feeling, when he had gone to hang his towel up over the shower curtain, two cockroaches fell from his towel onto the floor between us. While typically this would have evoked at least a small scream from me, in this moment all I could do was laugh.  I was mostly just glad it was his towel and not mine.

I am looking forward to today. We have church this morning, and we are planning on going out to the waterfall this afternoon. I am worried about whether or not I should go out to the waterfall, or if I should take the opportunity to rest, but I already feel like I’ve missed more than I’ve wanted to on this trip with my kids, and I want to see the waterfall with them. I tell myself “no matter what” I’m going.


After breakfast, we all head downstairs where we will walk next door to the church. As we make our way down the stairs we see the orphan’s pull up in the truck. 48 orphans. One truck. I’ll never get used to seeing this. J

I find Dieunaylove right away. She looks like an angel. She’s wearing a spotless white dress. I am certain that the orphan mama’s dressed her up extra-special because they know we are here.  She looks beautiful. She’s walking towards me, she has a bashful look on her face and I can’t stop smiling. We hug. I kiss the top of her head. Oh how I have missed her.

I grab her hand. She smiles up at me. I introduce the kids and Donna to her, although I know introductions are not needed. We walk to church I hold Audrey’s hand in my right, and Deiunaylove’s in my left. Despite any physical struggles I’ve had, this is EVERYTHING. This moment. It’s inexpressible. I want to remember every detail.

I have Dieunaylove sit with us during the service rather than where she normally sits, with the other orphans. She holds my hand the entire 2 ½ hour service. The church is always hot, with little to no breeze, but of course, it feels even hotter than usual to me. I’m really struggling physically, but I don’t care. I don’t want this time to end. I have a feeling of fullness that I can’t possibly comprehend or explain. As soon as service is over, one of Dieunaylove’s friends comes over to bring her back to the group. I tell her I will see her at the compound before she goes back to the orphanage.

Once we all make our way to the compound, we have the opportunity to take some pictures. I’m feeling really weak and lightheaded, but I know how important it is I push through, I don’t know if I’ll ever have this opportunity again. I’m suddenly saddened and slightly anxious by the enormity of this moment, but I don’t want anyone else to notice, I just want them to enjoy it. I try to keep smiling.

It’s time for the orphans to go. They all load up. Deiunaylove is one of the last ones to get up in the truck, she like me, doesn’t want our time to end. She gives me her “spunky” smile. The one that stole my heart that first time we met…. I smile back at her and wave. Something in me wants to cry. But I don’t.

After lunch, instead of going to the waterfall we decide to do the orphan shoe distribution since they are all out of school and we will probably be doing home visits most of the other afternoons.

Thanks to generous donors, we have brought a pair of closed-toe shoes (which is required for school) for each of the orphans.  Treyton and Alexa, who have both helped me organize, check and double check that we had all the right shoes and sizes, and then pack all of the shoes, are excited to be a part of distributing the shoes today.

Arriving at the orphanage, my body seems to be screaming at me. I want a nap so badly. My head is pounding (which is NEVER ideal for an orphanage visit), my hands are shaking and I am still lightheaded and nauseas. I don’t know how I’m going to get through this. Anytime we’re trying to distribute things at the orphanage, leadership, organization, and consistent expectations are key to ensuring the least amount of chaos possible. I am fully aware that I do not have the energy for all of that. I say a quick prayer and ask God for a successful distribution.

We decide we’re going to work from the cafeteria, that we will have one or two kids come in at a time, we will check to make sure the shoes fit, record that they received their shoes and what size they end up with, we will take their picture (to update their profile), and then we will have those orphans leave the cafeteria so that it doesn’t get too out of hand.

We begin to set up the shoes on two different tables – a boy table and girl table. As we are setting up the shoes, the kids can’t help but gather around, taking a look at what we have brought. There is a lot of excited chatter and energy, as we have all of them leave and start calling their name, one-by-one. 

Ethan, Tim and Treyton work on handing out shoes and checking sizes, I record which students receive their shoes and if the shoe fits properly, Olivia takes pictures giving me the photo number for each orphan so that I can record it, as well. 

Alexa helps Olivia and I for a while, but soon find Dieunaylove, and they are now off playing together.

Things aren’t going quite as smoothly as I would normally like, but considering how I am feeling, and the number of shoes/orphans we had to go through, it is going really well.

After distributing the shoes, we decide to call the orphans back in, one at a time, to give them their personalized pencil cases that my friend Amanda so generously donated and made (together with our friend Chantae). The kids are really excited about their pencil cases. This is much simpler than the shoes, and it’s going much smoother – Pastor Lavaud is here and he’s making everyone laugh. He’s having two of the older boys act as police, as we call out a child’s name he has the “police” escort the kids in, once they receive their pencil case, he immediately has them escort the child(ren) back out…. The kids think this is hilarious… and it is.

I love these days.
So many smiles.
So much joy.
So much love.

While the gifts are always genuinely appreciated by those we bring them to, what we’ve found to be even more appreciated is the heart and thought behind the gifts. The reality is, for the people that we spend our time and energy serving here, whether it be the orphans or the sponsored student families, they are considered the “least”. In their society, and even from a world-wide perspective, both the families and the orphans are the poorest and most needy in the society, and they are not used to people caring about them. A gift for “just them” or a personalized item is something most of them have not only never received, but never even really considered. These moments, where they realized that they are loved and thought of by others are rare for them, and they mean more than anything.

They are the unheard.
They are the hopeless.
They are the forgotten.
They are the broken.
At least that’s what they’ve been told and have come to believe about themselves.

All the money and goods in the world cannot fix this sort of mindset.

So we go deeper.

We read before going on this trip that the cause of poverty is multi-faceted and is only partially a physical issue – poverty is also spiritual, psychological, mental, emotional, and communal.

No, we cannot fix this with money or things.
So, our focus and hope as we spend time with the people is to point to the only ONE that can heal the spiritual brokenness and hopelessness that ALL of us experience.
Our goals are to consistently share the gospel and the Word of God with the people we’re ministering too, and to promote Lavaud’s ministry and church as a long-term option for them to continue hearing the truth that can heal, bind-up, restore, and comfort.

As believers our mission is in the relational, so we work to start and build relationships, to be among and spend time with the people we’re trying to serve, not to save them or solve all their problems, but so that they know we care.

We have been told repeatedly, that to visit the homes of the students and families in the sponsorship program (those who are the most poor) is something that just “doesn’t happen”. Pastor Lavaud has told us, that the poor are not accustomed to people going out of their way to see them and visit them. It’s a strange and new thing for them, this idea of being seen and heard.

This is a step.

Our heart for the people here goes so much deeper than just wanting to provide for physical needs. We long to know them, and for them to know us. We want to rejoice with them and mourn with them, and they with us. We want real relationship, not dependency or control.

We want to show them with our actions that we are not so different, us and them, in fact, we’re a lot more alike than they’ve come to believe. We’re broken too, and while our circumstances may be different, we’re not better off.

We want them to know that we are here because we love them, and because we want to learn from them.

They’re not alone.
They’re not forgotten.
They are each someone special and God is working in and for them.

Isaiah 61
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

(Enjoying a little "down time" together, Titus and Audrey color in the boys room) 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Haiti October 2017: Home Visits

As we make our way down the bumpy road, I look over at Audrey who’s sitting beside me in the truck, she’s on full alert, taking in the newness of a world she’s never known existed. Titus is sitting in the front seat with Tim. The older kids are riding in the back of the truck with Olivia, Ethan, Sylveus (our amazing translator) & Kilick (the school principal).

We’re headed out on our first home visit, we’re driving down what feels like an alley, but is actually a road. To say that the neighborhood is “compacted” is an understatement. There are houses lined up literally side-by-side, front to back, with hardly any space in between. There are kids, half-clothed, playing in the road, they scoot out of the way as we approach. Once they realize we are “blancs” (white), they stop, smile, and wave at us, some even run after the vehicle. The older kids and adults don’t bother waving, they just stare at us, as our truck, which is filled with 5 blanc adults, 4 blanc children, and 3 Haitian men makes its way slowly down the bumpy one-lane road.

I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to the staring. I wouldn’t say that it bothers me, and it certainly doesn’t offend me, but it can be a little discomforting at times. I keep hoping that one day it will stop, that one day, the people would just recognize me as someone who belongs there and that I’ll be someone everyone is used to, and that my presence would no longer warrant the looks. I’m not really holding my breath on this, but I figure a girl can hope. J

I’ve been to the home we are headed to before so I “basically” know where I’m going…. not that I could get myself there. Or Back. But I at least recognize where I’m at and I realize we are almost there.

Once we park, I’m at the mercy of Guensly to get me out of the truck (I will continue to try to open it every time, but) the truck’s door handle is broken, and my super-secret ninja skills seem to be no match for it.
By the time I get out, I see Madam Noel already making her rounds with hugs and kisses for everyone. Hands down, this mama is one of the kindest and most hospitable women I’ve ever met. Never mind that we don’t speak the same language, a shared language isn’t necessary to recognize this woman is 100% genuine.

Once we all get situated on the front porch, we start the unfamiliar process of interviewing this family. This is our first home visit interview, so I’m not exactly sure how this is going to look or even how the communication will work, but after the first few questions the nerves start to wear off a little bit. Each of the adults contributes questions; we are all affectionately curious and interested in getting to know the students and their families better, and that seems to guide the conversation. This is feeling far more natural than I expected.  

Francelove, who is one of the few high school students in our program, answers most of the questions herself. This is encouraging to see, as last time we were here, she wasn’t feeling very well and her mother did most of the talking for her.

Madam Noel graciously allows us into her two-room home and points out where the 11 people who live here all sleep.  It’s truly mind-boggling to my first-world-mama-brain that this could not only be happening on a regular basis, but that this family is not unique in their situation here in Haiti. Space is not a luxury most families in Haiti can afford.


Francelove, who’s 16 years old, has made a connection with Audrey and at 7-years old she’s too big to be held, but that doesn’t stop Francelove from picking her up. She starts talking directly to Audrey, who quietly tells her “I don’t speak Creole” but that doesn’t slow Francelove down a bit.  Audrey looks confused. I can tell by the way Francelove’s speaking to her that she’s complimenting her, I lean over and whisper into Audrey’s ear “She likes you.” Audrey smiles, and wraps her arms around Francelove’s neck.

We talk for a little while inside the house, but we are careful not to overstay our welcome. And like we will do for all of the home visits, we take a picture of Francelove for her sponsor and leave the family with a creole Bible, a personalized pencil case, two-gallon bags of rice and a bag of beans.

 (....when in Haiti.... right? :))

I realize, once again, how many people have contributed to this moment.
There have been so many generous people who donated their skills, time, and money to make these things possible. I am amazed at how God is able to use so many, complementally working alongside one another to accomplish His will. Some are called to go, some to give money, others to pray, and still others to volunteer their talents and time.  I am so humbled and blessed to be even a small part of what He is doing.

(Kilick and Titus during a home visit) 

We make 6 home visits that first day. Each one is unique. Each one special and filled with sacred moments.  

From the first moments after landing in Haiti over a year and a half ago I had fallen in love with the people here, but it’s obvious to me as we visit family after family, that God is peeling back a layer of not only of my heart, but of my understanding of the people we are here to serve.

It’s overwhelming.
It’s exciting.
It’s what this trip (and every trip) is all about.

(This little girl --- wearing a jacket in nearly 100 degree weather BTW --- working to balance the water on her head was just too cute!!) 

In preparation for this trip we had been praying, and reading, and learning for so long, and now we’re here. We’re actually here and we’re doing this, and it is so much more than I even imagined.

It is a gift to be able to look into the eyes of the parents and of the students, to place faces and stories with the names and pictures I already have. I have met almost all of them before now, but I have not had this opportunity to really hear them and get to know them personally. To understand their lives and their situations even a little better is something I feel unworthy of. The blessing of this opportunity is not passing by me unnoticed.  

My head may be wanting to explode in pain, but my heart feels like it is going to explode with joy.

Back at the compound, after dinner, Tim, Olivia and I end up sitting across from each other on our beds talking through the first visits. I feel giddy every time I even think about them. I can tell Olivia does too. Tim is, as usual, my constant, he’s never quite as emotional as I am, but he feels it too, I can tell.
I appreciate this “thing” between us that we’re all sharing in this moment. We know we don’t have to try to explain ourselves because we’re already understood.

(Walking to the home visits with friends)  

It helps me to know that they “get it” because I don’t have the words quite yet to articulate what I’m feeling (I realize now I might never have them). I’ve felt this before but the home visits seem to have brought about an entirely new level of “speechlessness” to my head and my heart.

 It’s no secret that my visits to Haiti cover a wide range of emotions, experiences, and feelings. I often find myself using contradictory terms to try to describe it all:  
Challenging …. Worthwhile
Heartache…. Satisfying
Tough…. Rewarding
Spiritual attack…. Spiritual victory
Awkward…. Natural
Frightening…. Peaceful
Painful…. Joyful
Tasks…. Relationship
Loud …. Quiet

(Audrey's best buddy in Rhode, Franceska, playing during a home visit) 

Tears of joy and tears of pain often flow down my face simultaneously here (and even once I return home), and sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the two emotions.
Adequate words are not available to capture these valuable moments, my time in this place, and the unseen things that I have experienced here.

That’s the only word that seems to even come close.

I’m at my most vulnerable here.
This was not in my comfort zone.
Coming here was an act of obedience.
And it has become a sanctuary for me.

(Our family visiting our sponsored students' home)

God is here with us and He is working and we’re merely standing as a witness to His goodness and His greatness.

Words will always fail us in these moments.

I picture myself digging for something.
Something unknown. Something I know to be valuable.
I dig at the hard ground with my bare hands.
The digging is hard work. It’s slow. It’s dirty.
But I know this is important and that I need to keep going.
Sometimes I want to give up.
Sometimes I think I would rather just keep my hands clean.
Sometimes I feel like I’m an idiot digging a hole for no apparent reason.
But then it happens.
I discover something…. Something that words can’t describe but something so wonderful that I realize it is worth everything.
I keep digging, but now I have more certainty.
It’s still hard work.
It’s still dirty.
But there is no longer any doubt.
I have no idea what the purpose of this hole is, or even if there is a purpose to it.
I no longer care what I look like. Or what others think. Or even how hard it is.
I am finding so much joy in the work.
I look around and I suddenly realize I’m not digging alone.
There are people all around the hole digging with me.
Some are white. Some are dark. Our hands, all different colors and sizes are working together. 
We laugh together.
We cry together.
We rejoice together and we face defeat together.
I realize what a gift this hole has become to me. I love this hole, not just the work of it, not just the hole itself, but the people I’m digging the hole with. The people I’m digging the hole for. I love all of it.
We have each tasted a piece of God’s goodness in this hole and I think we all realize that with every handful of hard earned dirt, that there is no end to HIS GOODNESS and HIS FAITHFULNESS.

(Sylveus, our very good friend & translator, and Titus)  

The home visits are like a new layer of “the hole”.

These moments are so much bigger than what they appear.

I am standing on holy ground and it is worth everything.
Every sleepless night.
Every moment of frustration.
Every bug bite.
Every drop of sweat.
Every insecurity I’ve had to push through.
Every moment of doubt.
Every question of inadequacy.

Psalm 126:1-3
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
    we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
    our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
    and we are filled with joy.”

Monday, October 23, 2017

Haiti October 2017 Night 1 & Day 2

We arrive to Hinche with unexpected smoothness and ease. The ladies at the compound have food waiting for us when we arrive. We carry all our bags up to the third floor of the compound, to the area that we will call “home” for the next 2-3 weeks. I am hot, hungry, and tired, but I am even more excited. I am at the beginning of what I know is going to be an amazing trip. God called us here. I am sure of it. We obeyed, we are here, and I am expectant for all that He is about to do.

After eating dinner, we begin to get ready for bed. There is a lot to be done before we can actually lay down. It is decided that in the girls room Mommer will get her own double bed, Olivia and Alexa will share the bottom double bed of one bunk bed, and Audrey and I the other. There are twin bunk beds on top but they have no railing, which makes me a little uncomfortable knowing how much my kids usually move around at night.
In the boys room Ethan will have a bottom double bunk, Tim will share the other bunk with Titus, and Treyton will take the twin bed near the door.

We are all exhausted after a long day of travel. Ethan especially who took a midnight flight out of Denver in order to meet up with us, has gotten hardly any sleep.

The temperature is noticeably hotter when we arrived to the third floor of the compound. I mean, Haiti is always hot, obviously, but this is a whole new level of heat. While the temperature drops (slightly) at night, our rooms tend to hold the heat throughout the night, which makes sleeping (especially with another person) a little tougher.

I’m not sure what time we all lay down at. I know it is late by the time we ate, found everything we needed, and got ready for bed. As I lay down that night, I started thanking God for a wonderful day of travel and arriving safely and praying for the rest of the trip. I don’t think I can get more excited. I am full of hope.

I doze off pretty quickly but wake again shortly after.  
I am sweating profusely. 
The generators must have already kicked off. The fans are off. 
There’s nothing I can do to cool off.
I hear sounds of water dripping on the tin roof outside our window.

Drip. Drip. Drip.
{Rooster crow}

Drip. Drip. Drip.
{Dog bark}.

I begin to feel heaviness all over me. I start to pray. My mind is at war. Lies begin to surface and I begin to panic.
I pray. Hard.
I start quoting scripture. Random scriptures, scriptures that have nothing to do with what I’m experiencing but I am searching for any verse that will pop into my head.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

The last time I look at my phone it says 1:30.


I wake up to a loud bang.
“What was that?”

{Dogs barking}
Drip. Drip. Drip.

Someone’s snoring. 

I’m hot. Really hot.
I’m thirsty. I have no spit left, my mouth is completely dry. I need water. I reach over next to the bed where I keep a water bottle. I take a long drink of warm water.

I look over and I see two cockroaches crawling up my mosquito net.
Ugh, gross.”
I grab my sandal from off the floor and gently lean over Audrey to smush them both between the netting and the wall. They fall down under the bed… or at least I hope that’s where they fell.

I lay awake for a while until I realize that something is biting at my ankles… not just one bite but a lot of them…. it doesn’t feel like a mosquito, I turn on my flashlight to look. I don’t see anything. I get up and grab bug spray and spray some across the bottom of our bed.

I lay back down.
I don’t know how much time passes but I’m wide awake still.

I begin feel the skin of my arms start to tingle….  Oh no,” I think. 

{Quick side note ---- I know most of you know this already, but I’ve struggled with anxiety most of my life, though praise God, it’s been significantly better the last year and a half or so. In saying that, I’ve only had a few actual anxiety “attacks” in my life. The last one was in March. In the middle of the night. In Haiti.
There’s not a doubt in my mind that they are spiritual attacks, but nonetheless, an anxiety attack in the middle of the night. In Haiti. Let me tell you, it’s not ideal.} 

…. My mind begins to race….
…. My heart is pounding…..
…. I begin to hear the voices of those who questioned us bringing our kids…
…. I start to believe the lies….
…. I start making up new lies….
…. I’m worried about my sleep….
…. I am panicking….
…. I want to go home…
…. My skin now feels like it is on fire….

Drip, drip, drip
{rooster crow}
{some other animal making some strange call}
{loud bang. Again}
It may be a tin roof piece flapping… I can’t figure it out.

My skin feels like it is on fire now. It makes it hard to move.
My breathing is increasing.
I try to slow it.
I can’t hardly move at all anymore. I feel plastered to my bed.
I’m laying there.
Mind racing.

I tell myself “You know what this is. Fight it. You’ve got this.”
I try to pray, but I can’t. My mind is racing, I can’t seem to control my thoughts.
I’m so hot. I’m exhausted and I can’t think straight.

I’m crying now.

“Oh dear God, what was I thinking?”
“Why did I come here?”
“How could I have ever brought my kids?”
“What was I thinking?”
“Lord, what have I done?”

I try to muffle my sobs. I cannot let anyone see me like this.
In my heart and the deep recesses of my mind I know how ridiculous this is. 
I know people are counting on me and that makes everything worse.

“Amber, pull yourself together. This is an attack. It isn’t reality. This is not truth.”

“I can’t. I can’t. I’m too tired. I have nothing left to fight with.”

“Go get Tim.”

“No, I can’t. I won’t”

Olivia is rolling over. She has been tossing and turning all night. I know she's not sleeping well either. 

I try to silent my cries. I don’t want to wake anyone up.

“Wake up Olivia, she’s right there, she might even be awake.”

“No, I won’t wake them up. They need their sleep. Sleep is too valuable here, I won’t take that from them.”

“These are lies. You don’t have to believe them. You’ve got this.”

“Lies? Yes. Lies. I know that. I know they are lies. But here I am, with only a few hours of sleep, and I can’t do this. I can’t do what I’m supposed to do with only a few hours of sleep. What am I going to do?! What am I going to do!? I need a plan. I need to find a solution. I have to fix this.”

“Just breathe. Start by breathing.”

I start counting my breaths, slowly I regain control of my mind.
I start to pray.
I’m still crying. Softer now. I don’t know what just happened or why, but I’m broken. 
I have nothing left inside of myself. 
I’m crying out to God, because I feel as though my life depends on it, and I realize in this moment – my life DOES depend on it. It always depends on Him. I need him in this moment as badly as I did yesterday when I didn’t feel this desperate.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

I slowly try to stand up out of bed, my legs are still tingling but at least I can move them. I make my way to one of the bags and start looking for my earplugs. I can’t believe I forgot to put them in.

I look at the clock it’s 4:00am.

“Oh, Dear God, help me sleep. Please”

I’m woken up by a slap to my face.  Audrey has rolled over – arm first – apparently. I push her back on her side and roll so that my back is too her. I’m facing Olivia and Alexa now. Olivia has been tossing and turning throughout the night. At one point, I don’t know what time it was but I woke for a moment when she got out of bed.

I start to pray for her.
I fall back asleep.

I’m woken by Audrey, she’s shaking me.
I have a headache. A bad headache.
She’s whispering something to me but I can’t hear her.
I take my ear plugs out.
She has to pee.
I help her get out of the bed and the mosquito net without waking everyone else.
I hear someone else awake out in the living room…. (?) My guess is either Tim or Lavaud.
I don’t get up to check.
Audrey comes back.
It’s a little cooler now, but not much.
I pull the flat sheet up over us for the first time.
She snuggles in close and I put my arm around her.
I close my eyes but leave my earplugs out.
I am kind of sleeping but I can still hear all the noises.

Everyone in the room is stirring. Olivia is sitting on the edge of her bed. She looks at me. She looks as exhausted as I am.
I ask “How’d you sleep”
Her look to me is my answer.
I say “Yeah, last night was a little rough.” 
We fill each other in on the fact that we were both awake for most of the night.

I head into the boy’s room where Tim is sitting on the twin bed, Ethan is sitting on his bed. I sit next Tim.
He says “How’d you sleep?”
I start to cry.
He puts his arm around me “That bad, huh?”
Pretty soon everyone gathers in the boys room, and I am blatantly honest with everyone about last night. I’m upset. I am questioning everything. I have a headache. I did not sleep well. I want to go home. I am scared. I don’t know what to do.
I know God called us here. I know we’re obeying. I wasn’t expecting this. What happened?

Tim leads us in prayer and a devotional.
He prays for me.
I am feeling a little better, other than my headache and a weakness in my legs.

As I walk back into the girls room Olivia is in front of me. She turns and says “I am feeling the exact same way. We know this is an attack. Tonight, if it happens again we have to wake each other up.”
We hug, as we shed a few silent tears.
“I’m sorry, I feel like such a mess.” I say, “ But God’s got this. We’re going to be okay.”

Breakfast was eggs, pineapple, avocado, bread and peanut butter. As soon as I sit down and smell the food, I just KNOW I’m going to be sick. The nausea is overwhelming. I look at my hands. I'm shaking. 
I force myself to eat at least a little bit. I know if I don’t eat I’m going to be in even worse shape.

After breakfast I take an Excedrin. Tim says he will head up getting the rice and beans packaged and that I should lay down and rest. I don’t disagree. By now I feel like my insides are shaking, my headache is pounding, and I’m fairly sure I’m going to throw up.
I lay down in front of a fan but do not sleep.

I head downstairs a while later to sit and watch while everyone else packages rice and beans.
I smile watching everyone have a good time, enjoying the work God has given them to do. 
My body may be failing me, but my heart is still full of a joy that is unexplainable. 

Everything’s going to be okay.
I just need to start feeling better. We’ll take it easy today, head to bed early tonight, and I will feel better tomorrow. I’m sure of it.

After lunch, our friend, Sylveus invites us to the English class he teaches for the older orphans. We ALL are interested in that. Plus that means we get to head over to Rhode where we will see the new gate, and construction that’s taking place, and Tim will be able to check out the playground equipment for maintenance.

While we were waiting for our transportation to get figured out, we had the opportunity to help lay out some of the laundry to dry. 

One of the things I was hoping for, while we were in Haiti, was to have my children see how things are done in Haiti that is different and less convenient than the ways we do things here, so I jumped at the opportunity to have them help too.

Lavaud runs a lot of ministries and he has one primary vehicle, so it can sometimes be tough to manage all the comings and goings with just that one truck. There are 9 of us wanting to get over to Rhode, plus Lavaud, and we have one little 4-door sedan available to us. Lavaud’s not so sure, but we are “pretty sure” we can make ourselves fit in this car for the short ride over to Rhode.
We start to pile in.

Tim, Titus, myself and Lavaud in front.
Olivia, Ethan, Donna, Treyton, Alexa, and Audrey in back.
We fit!
I wouldn’t say that we fit comfortably, but we fit nonetheless. And this is an adventure, right?

The kids think this is awesome, and of course they do. They’re the ones sitting on other people’s laps J

We make the short drive over to Rhode. We’re a little late for the English class, so we try to “sneak” into the back (ha, ha).

Sylveus is writing the words to the song “Lord I Lift Your Name on High” on the chalkboard. The kids are copying the words into their notebooks.

We take a seat.

I’m very impressed with the English class - not just Sylveus’ teaching (which is amazing) but the students, the atmosphere, all of it. I’m feeling grateful we were able to be a part of it.

Sylveus allows several opportunities for us to participate, as well. A few of us read the words to the song so that the students can hear our accent. Olivia sings the song to remind everyone of the tune, and then we sing it together as a group.

Towards the end of the class Sylveus asks one of us to help teach the class. I quickly volunteer Ethan. J
He does an amazing job.
I’m pleasantly surprised and proud of how quickly he is able to think on his feet.

I had only met Ethan a few times prior to this trip, and after spending only 24 hours with him, I’m exceedingly grateful he is on this trip and a part of the team. He’s 23 year old, and his love for the Lord, people, and The Word is obvious. He has an amazing attitude whatever the situation and pitches in wherever is needed. I am really looking forward to getting to know him better. 

After English class, the kids are able to play with some of the kids at the playground and around the school. 

The Rhode kids are really excited to see “blanc” children. They love touching their skin and hair. It’s sometimes hard for me to actually see my kids, though they are always easy to find, all I have to do is look for the crowds of children. 


The three older kids seem to find one or two kids that they bond with immediately and throughout the trip it will be common to see them with the same kids anytime we’re at Rhode.

Titus isn’t overly comfortable with all the attention so he mostly just runs in circles around the school grounds. 

This seems to keep a crowd from forming “around” him, but is also acceptable to the other kids, as they just run after him. J

Today was a good day. I’m happy with what we were able to do, even though I’m not feeling well.

Physically my body is screaming at me. It wants me to stop. I can feel it. All my warning signs are going off and I know deep down what this means.

Mentally I’m concerned. I’ve been where I am before. I’ve felt this before. It didn’t end well. I know if I stop moving, I won’t be able to keep going. I know I need to push through as long as I can. I promise myself I’ll eat even when I don’t want to and I’ll rest every chance I get and I’ll go to be early. I pray that that’s enough.

Emotionally, I feel good, I remember why I’m here. I’m so in love with this place. With these people. I’m overwhelmed by the opportunity to share these moments with my children…. My heart is too full. I’m so happy.

Spiritually, I’m constantly praying, asking God to please heal my body. Please allow things to go as planned. Give me the strength I need. I thank Him for getting us here. I thank Him that our family is together in this place that I love so dearly. I pray that we are still able to accomplish what we have come here to do.