One family's journey to hear God's calling, overcome our fears, and be obedient to Him!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Haiti Trip Cancelled due to Post Election Riots

Tomorrow morning my daughter and I were scheduled to fly to Haiti. We were travelling as part of a mission team from White Stone Church. The team planned to stay at the orphanage in Camatin, and serve the needs of the people in the Camatin, Beloc, and Coq Chante mountain communities. We also would be spending the week with our sweet Jesula.

We received word yesterday that it was simply not safe to come due to political unrest and rioting following last Friday's Presidential Election in Haiti. The trip is being rescheduled in a few weeks when things have settled down.

I know God is in control here. I have a feeling that He has delayed this trip so that He can do something amazing. I can't wait to see what He has planned!

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. Psalm 27:14

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Together forever, never apart, maybe in distance, but never at heart.

Well, while Shawna and I were serving the homeless Under the Bridge last night I received a text message that said: "Jesula fell at the orphanage, she is apparently okay, but she broke one of her front teeth". A thousand things run through your mind at that moment. Of course we were very worried, and frustrated because we had no way to know what had happened or to provide her comfort.

Later in the evening I finally reached the orphanage director, Magdala, via phone. Magdala speaks very limited English as does Jesula. My Creole is slowly improving and I can ask her how she is doing, if she is happy, and tell her we miss her and love her! But, I wasn't able discuss the fall or her tooth. I did have a short but sweet conversation with Jesula though. She was so excited to talk to us and we were showered with the usual "I love you Popi" and "I love you Mommy". As for the tooth, nothing can be done until we can get her here and get her to a dentist!

This waiting and distance thing is tough. Actually, it's worse than tough. Ashley and I will be traveling to the orphanage soon to spend five days with her and I can't wait!!!


Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A good name is more desirable than great riches...

I wanted to make a brief post about Jesula's beautiful name.

In Haitian Creole "Jezi" means Jesus, and "La" means There. Jesula is the English form of Jezi La. When Jesula was born she was very sick. Her parents feared she would not live. With time Jesula's health improved. Her parents decided to name her Jesula because they believed that Jesus was There with her and healed her.

We have heard people pronounce "Jesula" in different ways. Based on what seemed to be the consensus, we were pronouncing her name to sound like "Jay-Z-La".


On our recent trip to Haiti we asked her how she pronounces her name. She told us her name is pronounced: "Je-Z-La". The "Je" sounds like it would in the name "Jeff", then you hear a full "Z", and then the "la" sounds like it does in the word "lava".

So, her name is spelled in the English form as Jesula. But it is pronounced just like it looks in the Haitian Creole form as Jezi La.

A good name is more desirable than great riches. Proverbs 22:1

Friday, November 5, 2010

Where Jesula Grew Up: Cité-Soleil

Jesula was born and grew up in not only the worse neighborhood in Haiti, but perhaps the worse neighborhood on the planet, Cité-Soleil.


Cité-Soleil is a slum village located on a garbage dump and land fill in the suburb of Port au Prince, Haiti. This 3 square mile slum occupies some 300,000 residents, most of which live in extreme poverty. The area is regarded as the poorest and most dangerous area in the Western Hemisphere and is the largest slum in the Northern Hemisphere. Cité Soleil is filled with armed gangs. Murder, rape, kidnapping, looting, and shootings are common.


The area has no electricity, no stores, no health care facilities, no schools, and has open sewers. There is very limited access to drinking water. When it rains, mud and debris flow through the streets, through the open sewage canals, and through the make shift houses. These houses are not adequate to protect against the elements.


Most of the residents of Cité-Soleil are children or young adults. The residents are the poorest of the poor and survive on less than the equivalent of one dollar per day. Many of the children there have no clothing and even young toddlers wonder with no one to care for them.

Jesula was born and spent the majority of her life in this environment. I close my eyes and try to picture her there. I cannot imagine the things she has seen and experienced in her life. Can you?

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Psalm 82:3

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

63 Hours in Haiti

I want to share a few things from our trip to Haiti this past weekend. We were only there from Thursday afternoon through Sunday morning, so it was a quick one. But, honestly we could have stayed 2 weeks and it would have been too quick.

When we arrived in Port au Prince on Thursday afternoon, Jesula ran to me, yelled “Popi”, and grabbed me, and I mean grabbed me, and would not let go for what seemed like 10 minutes. That moment alone was worth the cost of the entire trip. It took Jesula a little while to turn her attention to Shawna, who she had never met. But soon enough they were like two peas in a pod. We spent Thursday evening with our gracious friends Ricot and Mona at his home in Tabbar. Ricot brought Jesula down from the orphanage in the mountains to the city to see us when we arrived. Mona cooked a wonderful dinner of chicken, beans, rice, potatoes, plantains, and slaw. After dinner, the three of us spent the rest of the evening trying on new clothes, playing, laughing, and just spending time together.



Friday morning we took a road trip to visit the Christ the Redeemer Savane Pistache Church and School. Our home church is supporting this church in rebuilding their facility which was destroyed in the earthquake. I was there back in August, so it was great to see the kids again. They were so excited to see us and they look so good in the new uniforms we provided them.


Friday afternoon, after picking up our wonderful friends, Kevin Rudd and Lorie Johnson at the airport, we headed to the orphanage in the small mountain community of Camatin. Jesula was very unhappy that we were going back to the orphanage. She had enjoyed having peace and quiet and better food in Tabbar. She also does not travel well in the truck. With all of that she was quiet most of the day and not nearly as affectionate, particularly with me. Of course that worried Shawna and I. Kevin and Lorie reassured us everything would be fine. We trusted God's plan, and in retrospect we think He wanted us to see all of her emotions as part of the learning and bonding process. That first evening in the orphanage was great. There are 26 girls there that are all so sweet and starved for attention. We played and chased after kids all evening. Jesula gave many of the snacks we had given her to the other girls. In bed that evening, Shawna fell asleep early, but Jesula and I played with my droid. We recorded the sweetest videos of her singing. She can sing "God of Wonders" in English, word for word. She has the most beautiful voice too! We laughed in bed for a couple of hours before she finally fell asleep.


Saturday morning, we took a small group to visit the remote mountain village of Coq Chante, nestled high above the city of Jacmel. This was an emotional time for many reasons. There is a memorial grave site there for Mona's husband, Pastor Nicolas Louis Juste. His life work was the Poor Children’s Assistance Project, that his son Ricot now facilitates. This project oversaw a church, school, and orphanage in Coq Chante. Atanie, a beautiful 4-year old girl, and the youngest of 18 little girls living there, was killed when the orphanage collapsed during the earthquake. Lorie, who was in the process of adopting Atanie, was our guide for the day. I encourage you to take the time to visit Atanie's Hope website (link on the bottom right of this page) and read the entire story. While in Coq Chante, we also walked down a little path to the edge of some woods to meet Onise's family. Onise is being adopted by our dear friends, Stacy and Sara Cox. Meeting Onise's mother and five siblings, seeing the tiny, remote, one room shack they live in, and then praying over them was surreal.


We returned to the orphanage around mid-day to meet Jesula's grandmother. Jesula's parents are deceased and her grandmother raised her the last few years. She left Jesula in the orphanage full time in January of 2010 following the earthquake. It was emotional and wonderful to meet her grandmother. She had apparently walked there to meet us. Jesula seemed happy to see her and gave her some food that we had brought as well as a new pair of shoes. We made a few pictures and had a nice time together. My next blog post will be in regards to Cite Soleil where Jesula grew up.


Saturday afternoon we loaded up 26 orphans and made a trip down the mountain to the beach in Jacmel. As soon as we got there Jesula ran to the beach, yelled "Poppy, Poppy, look", and wrote her name in the sand. While playing in the ocean, she had a little ball and would throw it and we would race to see who could get to it first. She would sneak up behind me and poke me in the back and giggle so loud. Jesula was so happy. We treated the girls to a wonderful meal under an ocean side pavilion. For a couple hours, all of the chaos and brokenness in Haiti seemed to fade away, drowned out by the sound of laughter and playing. We played in the ocean with them and watched them sing as they splashed and danced. It was truly a time to remember.




That evening back at the orphanage, we handed out donated gift bags, dolls, and clothes that we brought. It was amazing to see how excited they were by things that we take for granted. We had a nice dinner that included chicken, beans, rice and plantains. When Jesula finished eating we excused her from the table. She gave us a kiss on the cheek and we assumed she went to play. We socialized around the table for a little while. About 8 PM we went up stairs to find Jesula sound asleep on the bed. Shawna and I were exhausted from the day so we turned in as well.

Sunday morning we had to leave about 7 AM to make the 3 hour drive to the Port au Prince airport for our return flight home. Shawna and I were up about 5 AM and prayed and watched the sunrise on the roof top. We finally woke Jesula up about 6 AM and she rewarded us with a beautiful smile. She and Shawna had girly time in the bathroom getting ready. Jesula put on a pretty white top, skirt, and white shoes, as she was going to church after we left. She was so beautiful. We made a few "photos", shared several hugs and tears, and then just like that, it was time to leave.


Seeing Jesula on Thursday afternoon when we arrived was one of the best moments of my life. Leaving Jesula on Sunday morning was one of the toughest moments of my life. In between was the fastest, most emotional, truly wonderful, 63 hours anyone could ever experience. And for that I praise God.

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3