My senses were in overload.....

Many many months have passed since I sat down and blogged on here....and for great reasons! Our Enpak195 School of Ministry and Spiritual Transformation is up and running full steam with 22 students who are actually 2 weeks away from finishing their first term! It has truly been incredible and so exhausting at times. There have been so many many days where I have wanted to sit down and write about the crazy things that are a part of life here in Haiti, but then the Lord reminds me that I should do all things without grumbling and the stories I was going to share would magnify my struggles without encouragement and for sure would encourage grumbling. So, yes it is super hard to live out here. ABSOLUTELY! But in the midst of the difficulties He is doing so many many things and teaching me to stop trying to do things "for" Him, but to do this journey "with" Him. To trust that He is doing amazing things and that as long as I am willing and obedient and get myself out of His way He will accomplish incredible things. Even as we have struggles with the kids that are super difficult He is doing so much. We realize that the issues we are facing here with the kids are issues we would have no matter where we lived but here they are just super super magnified. And the benefit of that is that we either choose to run away from the issues and keep running or we meet them face on. If we had stayed back in the US the issues would be there but they would most likely be masked by our busy days, filled schedules or us trying to read "how to" books, seek the next best advice from parents we know(which sometimes we do reach out from here:) and the issue may eventually be resolved and really grow our kids. But here...we face them head on daily. It's super tiring but I can see that God is doing so very much in them...and they are being used for His glory in ways they don't even know. 

So part of our busy days out here has been that we have been pursuing our Haitian Residency so that as we fly into the country we only need one way tickets and are legal residence so we won't have issues. This process, as you can imagine in a very corrupt government and no true president, is really a matter of who you know. Last week we finally had all our paperwork organized, thanks to my amazing strategic husband, and we dropped Malachi and Rachel off with our team members for a night while we drove to Port-Au-Prince with the youngest two. Before we left that morning we picked up 4 Haitian friends who all needed rides to Port for different reasons. It was hilarious! We had our small backpacks for our short stay and we picked up our cook, Frantcesse and her husband and she had packed about 7 or 8 bags full of produce and things that she knew she could buy cheaper in our small town to take to her 8 sisters in Port! Our car was packed down including a few of her bags tied to the roof with a kids jump rope:) Only in Haiti!  After the windy roads we had to stop a couple times because one of the girls we drove got motion sick. It amazed me that they just think it's just a Haitian thing. I handed back some ginger candy and a Dramamine and told her it is not just a Haitian thing. They were surprised! The blessing is is that they weren't traveling packed down in a Haitian bus or garbage truck that wouldn't stop for her to get sick! Then as we moved on we were able to stop quickly at a huge missionary compound in a town a few hours away and they were able to do some fixes on our car and order in legit parts to help us out!! PRAISE JESUS! We do not have good mechanics in our town!  We got close to Port and all the sudden Frantcesse said stop. She is pregnant so I thought she may need to go, but no. Along the side of the crazy highway her son and walked up with his dad for her to give her son some money to help him. It blew my mind at the way the culture has just accepted divided parents and children all over the country! And typically no matter where the kids are the mom is the one who works and helps provide for them because most of the men don't work.  It was so good to meet him. He is 12 and super cute. She was able to move her 8 year old to Jeremie after we hired her for work. Still praying she will find a home with her new husband so she can move her oldest here too!

Ok...my senses...so we arrived in a section of Port that in so many ways looked like a busy suburb of LA dropped off our inverter at a legitimate dealer! They spoke English and said that the inverter was under "warranty" and would be fixed free by tomorrow....uh....that is amazing! I have story after story of trying to find real technicians to fix things and they just leave with your money. HALLELUJAH! So thankful for God's favor! When we arrived at the hotel was when the kids and I just truly realized how different our surroundings felt. We walked on carpet!!! It felt incredible and then we went into our room where it was ice cold with air conditioning. Even funnier was going into the bathroom....I saw myself! Seriously...we have had two small mirrors that allow us to see our face only for almost an entire year...and their really aren't mirrors anywhere here so to see my whole self was kinda weird! HA! Then I saw something I haven't seen in a year...a hair dryer! Oh...man I so wanted to give it a try. We have such limited power that every thing we plug in at our house is measured it's output so that we have fans running for the kids and us when you are melting in the heat of the night. So a hair dryer or any styling item is totally not important...and it's ridiculously humid so even if I did use it at the hotel...it would be a waste! I will wait till we visit the US and then see what my crazy hair looks like after a year of no cuts! So, then we went to eat dinner at the restaurant. I was waiting for the waiter to tell me what was available to eat, because at the few restaurants we have you never get the whole menu to choose from. It's usually 2-3 items that are available from the meat market and it's the same food at all the restaurants. Then I realized the entire menu was available! I finally began to read it and was then shocked by the American prices...ugh! And to make it even more luxurious we slept with not one mosquito biting us or one crazy tiny ant climbing on my arms or legs. It was incredible . 

I realized that all those things are just a sweet sweet gift from my Father. I love the fact that the two kids were excited for carpet and the water pressure in the sink! As much as we sometimes feel like they are ungrateful I was reminded that there is soooooo much they don't complain about and how much they have grown and are growing out here. And for me, what a great blessing it is to have those gifts from Dad. It felt like I had just opened up a great birthday gift and I truly enjoyed every moment of it. But when we returned to Jeremie and were reunited with Malachi and Rachel we sat as a family at one of those wonderful local restaurants and just enjoyed each other. That's a gift that isn't one time or perishable! I realize that being out here has for sure changed us and what we know as "normal" has absolutely changed. But in so many good ways. The people that God has put in our lives and Lord willing we have drawn them closer to Him are amazing gifts. I am so glad that when we make ourselves available and obedient to what He is doing we get to be a part of this crazy journey of faith. All of us have this incredible opportunity to just be available to what He wants to do. We just have to say yes ....especially when it's hard and uncomfortable. It is so very much worth it. The rewards, I know for sure, are more than you can even see! 

The love of a Father....is to show me where I need to grow

Happy New Year! Bonn Ane!  I had desired to sit down and write some crazy stories of life out here for the past three weeks, but the crazy surely has not stopped! So I am going to take you into a few things that just truly only happen here in Haiti and to be quite frank...these things are challenging me and changing me in incredible ways. 

One of the things that has been super hard out here is going to church.  We are still without a vehicle and Sunday's are very hard for our family of 6 to wake up, get dressed up, eat and then find taxi's(motorcylces that seat 4-5 people each..no helmets) and get to church by 7 or 8am!  It is also hard for the kids...and me...to sit still for 3 hours straight not knowing what's being said and sweating constantly. Yet the Lord is so good to really open doors and we are able to borrow the truck from the property on Sundays since no one is driving it.  

We went to visit a new church and we were told we should arrive at 7am...it starts at 7:30 and they said we wouldn't find a seat inside if we didn't get their that early. We would have to sit in the overflow.....

We parked our truck and walked in through crowds of Haitians....almost all of them had walked to church. WALKED! There were probably 3 vehicles parked, maybe 20 motorcycles parked and the church was full in the four rooms that were crazily attached so that each of the rooms could at least hear the loud speaker, but see nothing. 700-800 people were there! It was absolutely something I have never seen. People who probably had to walk for 45 minutes to an hour to arrive that early to sit for 3 hours and worship the Lord Jesus in a hot room, and probably not be able to even see the pastor. It blessed my heart to know that there is a desire. Mind you that something here that runs deep is "religion" and rules and not relationship, but I was grateful to know the sermon was solid that day on the Holy Spirit and many people came up at the end for prayer. 

Some things we won't ever get used to is just being the major minority here and you are absolutely treated different...good or bad! So when we arrived our family was seated in the front row. HA! At least it kept my kids from being antsy and trying to scoot out!  After the 3 hours me and the kids stepped out into one of the overflow rooms while Aaron met with the pastor and Rachel got bombarded by a few older Haitian girls who she just fell in love with. The kids will never be lacking in meeting new kids here. They even taught her a dance....

And a fun picture of the two littles trying to patiently wait for dad's meeting with the pastor to end...They don't look thrilled but they did amazing and we finally left after being in the heat for 4 hours. 

I would love to say that the eye opening moments just come in sweet moments like this...but the next day bore a different growing experience for me. Sunday night I went to finish some laundry and realized we had no water...again. We knew that the line in the street was probably cut....ok so let me explain how plumbing seems to work in Jeremie. Our water from the city is pumped through 2 inch PVC pipe that is barely buried in spots on the roads and randomly connected to others. It then pumps up to our big blue water tank which is our supply for our home.(Not drinking water!!!) So often, because lines are exposed, people come and cut the line and take water. So we knew we needed to limit flushing the toilets again, washing hands with sanitizers and really make what water I have last.

The next morning we both woke up super early once we heard water flowing. We knew that the only thing we could do was grab our 10 buckets and go in the street and haul water up to our roof because we didn't know where the line was cut and with the water gushing we couldn't fix it. Praise Jesus we had water that day, but we hauled  and hauled and hauled as much as I could...Aaron could've kept going and going! I was exhausted.  We didn't even get 1/4 of our tank filled but I knew I could make that water last. I even ran some laundry in our french, plastic washing machine...and when it was just rinse water I caught it in the shower as it drained in my buckets to then reuse on the next wash load. It  was a crazy day of making every bit of that water last.

In these two experiences I realize so much. I had a very very small taste of what 90% of the locals here go through daily as they haul one large paint bucket of water on their heads to their homes at the crack of dawn to wash themselves or make a meal. In those moments of me thinking of ways to make it last I realize, again,  what an abundance we have! And I also saw that there could be an amazing deep desire to worship the Lord no matter how uncomfortable our bodies are. I know there are people who go to that church who truly love Jesus and the walk, the heat, the crowd and bugs are never going to take away their devotion to Him. I desire that devotion.

And I felt the Lord wanted to show me how in every country there is a different kind of suffering. It may not seem as if America has much suffering. At least most Americans are super terrified to even live the way our family lives here and I admit I had many many fears that I needed to surrender to get my tail out here!  And there are still many comforts and selfish ways being refined in me. Yet I know there is suffering. I have watched many many of our close friends have miscarriages, childhood cancer, suicides, murders, divorce, adult cancer, death and other tough struggles and pains that our Father in heaven does NOT desire.  I know that when I first came to Haiti my first thoughts were about ways to help. And now knowing more, and being inside this country the only true way to help is the true relationship of Jesus Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit! The physical things we do is because Jesus wants to truly change us...not always is the person who receives the help changed, but the person who helps. So we must follow the perfect example and die to ourselves as we truly give it all away. But the biggest and only way countries will ever truly get the "help" they need for eternity is to finally understand the relationship that is beckoning them to sit on the lap of their Father who gave His Son, Jesus for their sin and believe in the awesome moving power of the Holy Spirit. 

That is my prayer for the two countries that have been my homes. 

Did that really happen??? To me?

Let me just say that my eyes and mind are being cracked open to really see the true world we will live in and the fact that the supernatural is constantly going even if we seem to think it is doing nothing around us! For example...many nights I wake up to hear drums and chants late into the night on this hillside. I knew in my spirit they weren't the local church having a late revival and that more than likely it was some sort of voodoo practice...but I would pray a covering over our house and the Lord to intervene and stop the evil that could happen. I then fall asleep. Well, one night it was happening earlier and Aaron was awake to hear it. It was super loud and he was adventurously curious..ha! So he went out to find a fire and dancing and "celebration" of the life of a local man who died. They explained to him and we found out from our friends that after they danced they then called on his spirit to come back. To raise his body from the dead and as his body walked around he was beaten back into his casket by the people with sticks!! Hmmm....you might think I just shared a "tall tale" of sorts. Nope. This is absolutely real. 

So I preface my story with a bit of a reality check...for myself! HA! Last week on Friday Aaron wanted me to take that day and just enjoy ministry and he would take care of homeschool. Usually on Friday's I  meet with the women ambassadors out here; Melissa, Lindsay and Chris and get to connect and grow together and then I'm back home to finish school while Aaron goes with the team on outreach. Well, Aaron felt I should go with the team and just take the day out away from home. It was great to fellowship with the women and then just enjoy their company while we waited for outreach.

On we went to meet up with Mike and one of the former Impact Haiti disciples,  Hubert, to circle up and pray before we walked the grounds of St Helene, one of the highest crime areas of Jeremie and extreme poverty. As we circled up and just allowed the Lord to guide our prayers for outreach I began to see a picture in my mind. It was a Haitian woman standing near a door. The picture went away and while I prayed I clearly heard the Lord lead me to pray for someone who had a vision of us to meet us that day on the streets and we would be used in a powerful way for them. 

To be honest...I have absolutely never had the urge to pray to meet anyone who had a vision of me...and as I prayed it outloud I literally had that thought..."Lord, please let this really be Your words!" HA! Oh doubting Thomas I was!! So we closed prayer and split up into two groups and Lindsay, Mike and I walked down the road. Quickly a young man came up to Mike and began to talk to him. A young boy was close bye across the street following us. The man began to tell Mike that he had had a dream last night that he would meet white people here at this place and they would pray for him!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously? I think everyone of us, except the sweet and excited young man, laughed in awe of our Father! 

As we began to hear more about his story, Mike jumped into the gospel to find out that Mario, the young man, had strayed from the Lord and just last week had had a dream and decided to come back to church last weekend for the first time in years. That lead him to a prayer event the night before where he fell asleep in the church and dreamed of some white people right at the building we walked out of praying over him.  After he prayed to recommit his life to Christ his excitement for baptism was obvious as Mike explained the meaning and asked if he desired to. He replied "Yes, right now."

So we walked! We went through the area of town straight down to the beach. As we walked I asked him about his dream the week before and if he had dreams often. He said he had dreams a lot and began to tell me about his dream. He had seen in his dream a church and his mother had walked inside the door. He began to bang on the door screaming to let him in because he knew that if he didn't get into the church in time whatever was outside the church would kill him and hang him on a hook for the dead goats. What? I instantly saw the picture of the woman at the door I had seen when we prayed and wondered about his mother.  She is the only saved one in his family!  I was in awe of what God was doing and how!

In front of a crowd that lived on the beach who were washing their laundry and work bags, Mario was baptized! He had so many questions and seemed excited to begin to come to Mike's men's group on Sundays to learn more. As we walked back the Lord was still working...the younger boy who had followed us their was Mario's nephew, Geraldo and he wanted to know more about what had happened and about Jesus. Lindsay and I shared the gospel with this beautiful 14 year old boy. It was hard to tell what he was thinking as the culture here speaks down on emotions, except anger and laughter. After we explained the gospel he repented and received the Lord Jesus as his Savior! It was an amazing day! He was questionable about baptism right then but it was super exciting to invite them to grow further in their faith and understanding at Mike's group.

The angels sang praises for these young men! An uncle and his nephew who had a call on their life and all we had to do was be available to what God had already prepared to do! Absolutely AMAZING!

Groans that words cannot express

There is no greater call on my life than to raise my children to know the love of their Father in heaven. With that call comes the true battle within our home. It's never really a battle of behaving well or becoming just another proper adult. It hit me years before I even met Aaron when I heard a talk on marriage at Summitview Church in Fort Collins, Colorado back in college. Pastor Steve  and his wife had started to talk about parenting and in one simple statement my idea of parenting was forever changed. "These are eternal beings we are raising." 

Wow! This comes to mind often...and more often out here as the enemy and my flesh battle with the lies around me that say I'm failing or I've made a mistake in taking my children to a third world country. If I ever grab a hold of those lies they could truly destroy my children's view of an amazing loving and perfect Father we have in heaven. He called us and brought us to live here. If at any point I doubt that or buy into fear, which absolutely NO fear comes from the Father, I will have damaged my children's view of Him. ....no big deal...right?

Today we have officially lived here for over 3 months and it truly has been incredible and hard and incredible again. The Lord has saved souls for His kingdom, baptized some to show their devotion to Him, healed many...and moved in our family powerfully. I am so grateful that today He decided to remind me that when I have lost words to speak into my children's  lives when they just don't desire to listen to me. He will hear my groans and His Spirit in me will cry out. I was reading Streams in the Desert today and here's what He spoke to me:

"Oh, the burdens we lovingly bear but cannot understand! Oh, the inexpressible longings of our hearts for things we cannot comprehend! Yet we know they are an echo from the throne of God, and a whisper from His heart. They are often a groan rather than a song, and a burden rather than a floating feather. But they are a blessed burden, and a groan whose undertone is praise and unspeakable joy. They are "groans that words cannot express." We cannot always express them ourselves, and often all we understand is that God is praying in us for something that only He understands and that needs His touch."

I am ever so grateful that when Jesus went back to sit with my Father He gave me the Holy Spirit whom is ever so nurturing and such an amazing teacher. I truly am excited and blessed to see what the Father has created Malachi, Rachel, Isaiah and Caleb to walk in. They are incredible eternal beings and it is an honor to raise them to know His love!

Not what you expect at a birthday party.....

Meet Gigi...

This is our sweet wonderful neighbor who lives right over our cement wall where she is running the Bethlehem Home with 5 orphans and 1 young boy with no mom who's father helps out on the property. This picture only shows the two of us during a birthday party she was throwing for the 5 kiddo's she has their because she missed all of their birthdays. Gigi lives most of the time in the U.S. but was born in Haiti and the Lord has called her back after over 20 years away to help children here. She has taken in 3 girls and 1 boy who's parents are all dead and then has an older boy, Vicki, who's father helps out on the property and the mother has abandoned him. Gigi's desire is to raise these children with love and not just to have them adopted out..."they aren't up for adoption", she says. But to raise them to change the community and the heart of Haitians. On Gigi's last time in the US the Lord had her delayed from traveling back to the US which ended up allowing her to go for an annual doctors checkup where they found she had breast cancer. She had to stay in the US for 10 months, which was very hard for her and also why she missed all the birthdays.

...Ok...back to the party. Early that morning Aaron and I were enjoying our devotion time when we heard a pretty terrible sound and quickly learned that they were killing one of their pigs to cook for the party for dinner! Not a lovely thing to listen to, but we knew it was super special for our family to come to the party. Our kids have fallen in love with the beautiful children! Let me introduce you...

From the left; Jesika, Sabrina, Aseli, Gabriel and Vicki.

So Gigi knew I made cakes in the US so she asked if I could help make one...let me say this is no easy task!!! I had no real butter, no cake pans, no milk...so the Lord provided a glass pyrex with a box mix and someones Christmas colored icing! HA! It was interesting. I knew in my heart that these kids don't get cake much...they have no electricity, no showers, no kitchen and no mattresses....this cake just needed to be edible! After my muffling with the awesome un-level oven this is the cake and they could truly care less what it looked like! They felt celebrated and it was wonderful. 

The atmosphere quickly changed as Gigi's gate opened and a woman came in with an older girl (about 14), a small girl (6) and a little 1 year old. The woman had been there before and Gigi looked to Aaron and I for advice as this woman was bringing the 6 year old girl to leave for good with Gigi.

This is not what you expect at a birthday party.

The woman was the cousin of the older two girls mom. To our knowledge the mom has been in prison for over a year for killing the dad and the girls were there when he died. Then the two older girls were taken by someone and the 6 year old has been treated like a slave (known locally as a restavek). This little girl looked completely hollow. I had no idea what to say to Gigi. She truly had no budget to take her in with school about to start. Gigi had to get up and leave because her emotions took over. This isn't the first time since she arrived that people have come to her gate with children.  Aaron and I both asked why the woman isn't going to care for her but only wants to keep the older sister. The woman said her three children were enough for her to manage and the older girl was easier. As we asked details about the parents and the treatment of the two girls I tried to speak to the little girl but nothing I said even made her blink. 

Mind you, this whole time the party is going on around us as this woman and her littlest baby are pawning off a 6 year old and keeping the oldest for better help...it was very heavy. They just sat...and sat...for almost 45 minutes. Aaron served them some food, even though he struggled inside with what this woman was doing. We both are learning daily more and more how much we need the love of Jesus to radiate out of our lives here.  Eventually I got to the young girl and even though I didn't know how to say much in Creole, I said..."You are loved. Jezi Renmen Ou(Jesus Loves You). You are not abandoned." It broke my heart. Her eyes never changed. And then they left.

The party ended up with Aaron teaching all the kids their how to play freeze tag and it was crazy! So much fun in the midst of complete reality of life in this country for many many many children who are living life believing they are abandoned and unwanted. To see her face and know that she understands clearly that she is not wanted by people was so hard to watch. It makes me ever so grateful for Gigi and the Hopestart Children's home that are loving these children in the midst of pain I may never fully comprehend. 

 

 

So...I am sure if you've read this whole story you may be wondering what happened to the little girl. Before the woman left Gigi asked what prison the mother was at and said she was going to ask the mom permission and to see if Gigi might be able to help the mother get out. The woman didn't come back for over a week. Finally...she came back and Gigi went to the prison and met the mom. I am unsure of her circumstances, but by faith Gigi took in the little girl because she believed that the little girl would continue to be abused. 

Today we went over to play and hang out and we found someone...smiling..

This sweet girl with the light pink tank top is Jislande! It was so amazing to see her smile! Please join with me to pray for Gigi and these kiddos. There are so many opportunities to see Him work and He is doing a huge work here. Pray for Gigi's staff to know the love of Jesus Christ and have a relationship with Him. Pray for each child their too also know Jesus and that even through the sweet relationships my kids have with them they would see more and more of a Father who will never leave them and never abandon them. WE LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS!

The night we anointed the entry to our house

We have experienced different battles during this journey, even before we said "yes" to move to Haiti. So it comes to no surprise that the decision to follow Jesus whole hearted will upset the prince of the power of the air,  who is utterly out to seek, kill and destroy.  Everyone who believes the Word of God is completely true and living and active believes that the true battle is in the supernatural.

About andrea

about andrea photo
Andrea is a Rock Ambassador serving in Jérémie, Grand'Anse, Haiti. She is part of a dynamic discipleship team that is raising up a generation of world changers in Jérémie. Her passion is to see people saved and to help them discover their new identity in Christ. She holds a music degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder and is a graduate from the IMPACT195 School of Ministry.