Monday, August 13, 2012

His Promises Never Fail, We Just Gain Perspective

I'm not even quite sure as I begin this post where it is going to end up. I find myself awake at 5am, in the same position I was in at 2:30am.  I am a mom.  I don't sleep much at night because we are sharing our room with a budding toddler.  I get naps when i can.  :-)
My toddler playing in the bubbles with her buddy Isaac.

I decided to take advantage of this night waking and journey back a little to a place my heart doesn't want to go. I have been running from writing this for too long. Two and a half years ago, I sat in an office in Asheville, NC, looking for peace in my heart and plunging head first into a journey that I had no idea would bring me to where I am.  I began loving and pouring my time into a country I never dreamed I would end up in. In the process, I began loving and pouring my heart out to a tiny 2 year old in a small orphanage in that country.  To say I was grabbed with a passion I have never felt before would be an understatement.  One could simply look back at my blog entries (all two or three of them) and see the excitement.  So rich was that excitement, that my blog stayed empty most of the time, as I spent hours and hours doing and researching, in search of a plan to bring this sweet little girl home to live with Matt and I.  I was so engrossed, in fact, that at one point, my sweet husband asked me to reassess what  was important to me - him or this new infatuation with the country and the girl.  Don't get me wrong - he loved this little girl too, but there was a slow fade happening with me that he was keenly aware of.  One that was taking me far from the priorities that I would readily verbalize if asked. "oh sure - as a woman of God, my God comes first, husband second, and ministry/passions, 3rd."  His recognition of this shuffling of goals came as a surprise, but a welcome one all the same.  This country - Haiti - and mission I had fallen in love with, including my love for little Ashley, very prayerfully took a backseat, as  I vowed to pray more and research/agonize/scramble less.  Hence, the reason for the adoption blog stopping so abruptly. 

 About the same time that the blog entries stopped, my hope began to wane.  We had been fighting in every avenue we could think of to get our sweet Ashley home, and though we had felt the Lord pushing us to pursue her and this process, we kept getting road blocks that left us puzzled at every turn.  I had never felt so sure of anything in my life that seemed to be moving in no direction at all.  The last time I had visited Ashley was in October of 2010 where I also found out we were pregnant with our first biological child.  What a blessing we had been given!  However, my first thoughts were ones of fear instead of immediate contentment and excitement.  I have always wanted to be a mother both to biological children and adopted.  We had been told that having biological children at that stage in adoption was a mark against us, and as crazy as this sounds, I was immediately troubled at this new life growing inside me, thinking we had jeopardized our sweet Ashley's potential position in our family.  While this may sound insane, it was a natural outpouring of my stream of consciousness.  Thankfully, even though my worry was futile from the outset, I was also assured by the lawyer that all would be well and the pregnancy was not a mark against us.  This all played out in October of 2010.  After telling Matt on skype that we were pregnant :-), I was quickly and lovingly ordered to be as careful as possible and to come home with no plans to return.  The growing baby in my womb needed priority and God would tell us what to do in the meantime as HE took care of Ashley when she was out of our ability to care for.  

Months passed, and the continued word from the lawyer in Haiti was that we needed to wait until the laws changed to actively pursue Ashley or we would be wasting money and spinning our wheels. So we waited and waited while I became a first "all the time" mom, though I had been a mom in my heart for more than a year by then. I enjoyed every moment of growing, delivering and raising Willow that summer, including living in three places between the school grounds, our new cabin, and camp.  All the while, I kept wondering what God was doing and when He would fill this long awaited place in our home with little Ashley.  While bringing Willow into the world, we were approached about praying through going to the mission field full time in Haiti.  I will write more later about that process, but during that time, we were so tossed about that would happen to Ashley. Would we be able to have her live with us when we move?  What are the laws governing all those specifics?  Should we move? Would that hurt her chances of getting her because we would suddenly be on a mission budget instead of an account that looked "acceptable" to a home study agent?  So many questions flooded our minds on top of all the others related to moving a new baby and our whole world to a third world location.  As you can imagine, we prayed until we were blue in the face.  As you well know, God did answer our call to move to Haiti, in ways that knocked our socks off, especially Matt's.  As we prepared to go, we hesitated many times, wondering about how much control we were supposed to have related to Ashley's future.  In all of our wonderings, we finally realized that control wasn't ours to begin with. That Ashley also wasn't ours.   I had journaled a thousand times before that the most important thing I could remember as a mom was that every child I was blessed with was the Lord's.  Remembering this allowed me to know once again that control was out of our reach for good reason.  We don't know best - He does.  

The most recent picture we have of Ashley.  Matt's visit in September 2011. She was almost 4.
For the sake of updating all of you on Ashley, I will fast forward to present day.  For so many reasons we are unable to share, the minute details will remain unspoken regarding Ashley's fate with our family.  She has not been able to come and live with us as we had hoped.  We are no further in the process of trying to adopt her.  I cannot tell you how many times I have asked God "why are we on this ride?"  What happened to get us here?   Emotions have ran high, low, and around and around.  There have been tears, silence, anger, bitterness, understanding, peace, and joy only God can give.  I have many opportunities to rest in the anger and tears, but as I have been promised over and over "joy comes in the morning." So as for me..."I will sing about your strength; i will praise your loyal love in the morning; For you are my refuge and my place of shelter when I face trouble." Psalm 59:16  
 I have realized that when anger was so quickly on my lips, speaking it would only result in pain.  Our mission to Haiti was to relieve pain - not to cause it.  Although I am sure I have caused unintentional pain along they way in my stumbling in this missionary life, I will not willfully hurt someone because I have been hurt.  We, Matt and I, have been called to a higher standard.  The same God that willed us to recognize Ashley's need for a family that we could provide and to love her how we do, also spurs us to love others who are harder to love.  The call is the same, however. And the love story He is writing that started with a young, eager couple, unsure of the future, but sure of His call to love a little girl and then to love her country - it is still being written! Though we are no longer actively pursuing adopting Ashley due to promises broken and walls we aren't able to cross, we will always consider her our firstborn. We haven't seen her since January 17th, 2012. We pursued her living with us for 6 weeks and were then told she had been promised to another family.  We were devastated. We will always love her. We may never understand why we were lied to.  We do, however, serve a God that knows all the whys. That is the beauty in all of this...I stand before a God - I SERVE a God - who knows no beginning or end and sees the end of our days and knows their outcome and will never stop walking beside us for eternity!  That is the promise we have.  Thank you for reading this. Thank you for walking beside us. Thank you for supporting us.  We are forever grateful for you, friends and family.  I pray you continue to walk this journey with us...
Willow and Daddy...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Motorcycle Mayhem

We have big news, really big news for our ministry... and a BIG thanks to our supporters.
Daniel and his brand new Sukida 150cc motorcycle!

We received an anonymous donation to help Daniel purchase a motorcycle. This is a big deal for him, and a big deal for us. Daniel has been saving to buy a vehicle to help him travel to school, work, and to church.

An anonymous donor helped him by giving half of the total money required to purchase his motorcycle. Daniel saved the other half, about 5 months of his entire wage.

This new motorcycle will allow him to spend less time commuting to school, which will free up  his time to help Chadasha's ministry in Port au Prince. When he finishes school, he we be able to get a better job, because he is able to provide his own transportation to job sites (he is almost finished vocational training for a/c repair).

Mystery person, you have changed someone's life for the better. You payed it forward. You have given hope and encouragement. You have rocked Daniel's world. For this, we are incredibly grateful.

Sarah and I are humbled by the generosity of our donors, and friends who enable us to be working in Haiti. We could not do this work without your financial support.  If anyone is interested in partnering
with us to purchase additional motorcycles for our staff, please email me for details.

Daniel headed home to show his family the new motorcycle

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Men of Chadasha

Honestly, we are still recovering from last week's craziness. John Fitts along with our male staff were in the Dominican Republic ministering to Haitians living in the DR over the past week. We did not want to advertise their absence for security reasons.

While they were gone, I truly realized how much those guys do. I also realized I do not THANK them enough for the effort they put into our ministry. I'd like to take a moment and introduce each of them to you in no particular order.

Daniel- chief mechanic & chicken wrangler

Zeke- soldier & evangelist

Josue- project manager & English teacher

Kessy- aka Dr. Blackberry & Dominican boss

God is using these men in great ways. They are a real asset to Chadasha's ministry in Port au Prince, and we would be lost with out them. I love each of them like a brother, and am blessed to have them as a part of our family.  Each of them have taught me something about life, authenticity, and most of all our Savior. I am excited to see how God will use them in the years to come, to influence our community.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mountain Time Run Down

What an AMAZING long but rewarding week it has been. We started the week with the youth group from Spring Lake UMC (near Tampa, FL). Seventeen youth & adults on their first trip to Haiti. We spent the week working in the mountains above Port au Prince. Everyday was long, each day we had nearly a 4 hour round trip commute, and 6 hours of day camp.

Everyday began like this...

And an hour later...

Each day we averaged 100 kids eager to play games, make crafts, sing, and most of all learn about our Creator.

We learned several simple lessons on this adventure... Very few of the kids know how to use scissors, simple games are way more fun than complex ones (especially being translated), and there are at least 15 different ways to eat a package of snack crackers.

Lots and lots of SINGING!

Youth Pastor Mike painting hands

Many, Many, Many Games Outside

Sing, Sing, Sing

The Crafting Queen & Her Students

Beach Ball Security

Sara Sealine in the mix

More than AWESOME Interns Who Made It Happen!
We were blessed with two special visitors this week. Matt's aunt Janet came to help with day camp. Also, Nina (from Asheville!) came along to help us too. Nina was Sarah's traveling partner on her first trip to Haiti in 2010. 

Matt's Aunt Janet is a great doorkeeper

Nina, our first visitor from WNC

The whole gang

To wrap up the week, we did something wild & crazy. We hosted our first group of orphans at the Orphan Retreat Center property. We were able to bring the team along with our staff and 10 of the kids from the children's home. We flew kites, played in the water, ate coconuts, and played soccer. The kids ran barefoot through the grass for hours, a first experience for many of them (Willow included).

Great day for kites!

Coconuts fresh off the tree

Soccer under the shade of the Palm trees

Our Haitian Princess loves bagged water & green grass

Everyday was long, and full of excitement. We've really loved this week for several reasons. First, we were able to introduce 17 people to Haiti for the first time. Second, we worked with American high school & college students to minister to orphans in their small mountain village and at the beach. This week has energized and excited us in ways that words cannot describe.  It's fun to watch God unfold his plan for our lives; to see Him working, and be invited to join Him in a front row seat.