Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Bridge Day 7- My Jericho

My Jericho
Before I came on this trip to Haiti, I was never an open person. In fact, I considered myself to be extremely introverted. Just like Jericho, my walls were tall, thick, and heavily guarded. Throughout my life, I’ve had trouble feeling accepted and trusting towards the people around me. I’ve always yearned for the feeling of complete friendship with people, but have never known how to go about it. However, this country has changed my perspective on how I can feel like enough, and how I can have an open and honest conversation without feeling judgment. 
I met a little boy at the home for the sick and dying children earlier this week that wanted nothing more than to be held and loved, regardless of his circumstance. He wrecked my heart in the best way possible. I realized that day that if he can open himself up to complete strangers, completely ready to accept love, I should give myself the chance to do the same. 
This team came in very open, so they didn’t make it very hard to connect with them. Throughout this week, my team has encouraged me, loved me, and helped me process my emotions (even the ones I don’t like). 
The people of Haiti, and the mission team I came here with were exactly like the song of Joshua: their instantaneous acceptance for not only me, but also one another, slowly chipped and cracked every wall of doubt I had. Because of this trip, I am so much stronger in my faith than before. I am ready to go home and continue to let the love that was shown to me this week shine into my life, because all of my walls have tumbled down. 


Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Bridge Day 6- Adoption: My Perspective

I suppose I am writing because I want everyone – especially my parents who adopted me- to truly understand the emotions that I experienced and how I feel about being adopted.

This is my third trip to Haiti, and each time people ask me “are you Haitian”? I tell them I am Haitian and American. I was ten years old when I first came to the states, and I continued to have a relationship with my birth family. I struggled with balancing two sets of parents. I didn’t really face the fact that I had two sets of parents until I was in my late teens. I especially struggled with the idea of how my adoptive parents could unconditionally love a child whom they’ve never met and brought from a different country to be their own. As I began to feel more and more like their child, I started to really hate the fact that I was referring to them as my adopted white parents when I would talk to my birth parents. It wasn’t because my birth parents were making me feel that I should refer to them that way, but inside myself I felt torn. I knew that my adoptive parents were so much more and meant so much more to me, even more than they realized. 

I remember when I came to the states, because of my upbringing in Haiti, I was scared of evil spirits (which are common in Haitian culture), namely the evil spirit dyab. I was afraid it would come to get me. I remember my adoptive mom, Natalie, being so brave in that moment. She was patient and willing to listen to a crazy voodoo story that I strongly believed was real. I remember my mom telling me that God was bigger than the dyab that I had known about in Haiti. This continued to happen night after night, and she never left my side. She stood by me through all of it. I admired the strength that my mom showed even when I was afraid. I knew that I was safe with her. That safety continued into my older years. In Haitian culture, moms show strength with their children. My American mom has Haitian strength within her, and I think that is why I feel so at home with her. God knew what He was doing when he brought us together. My mother carries herself, teaches and raises her children in Christ. 

At times, I can be difficult to love. My mom shows me the unconditional, unwavering love that God shows us everyday, despite my flaws. She loves me even harder through those times. Because of what my mom has done for me, I want parents who may consider adoption – or even someone who just wants to understand adoption, to understand what it feels like as an adopted child. I have seen other children who live in orphanages and I see the sadness and understand the feeling of missing something in their lives that they often feel. Although my Haitian parents made the choice to allow me to have a better life here in the states, I still felt a sense of loneliness when I was left at the orphanage. I wanted to be in a family. Every child wants to be in a family with people who love them- whether it is their birth family, or a family who adopts them.

Just as God sets eternity in every human heart, I believe he also puts the desire of a family in a child’s heart. Although we live in a fallen world, God is merciful and kind and he allows lonely children to experience a taste of what His original plan for a family should look like – and they long for parents come into their lives to fill that hole. He also calls some people to love children whom they did not give birth to, and then gives them a love for the children He is placing in their lives. God is a God of rescue missions, and I believe that He calls parents to adopt children to live out that rescue mission here on earth by rescuing them just as He rescued us. It’s a reflection of His love for us. My mom showed this reflection of God’s love to me. She rescued me – she’s the hero in my story. And for that, I am eternally grateful. I pray, and believe that one day He will also call me to adopt children and love them as my own. I hope if He is calling you to adopt, that you will remember fear is not from God and you will not be afraid to do what He is asking of you. 

Jezi bay tout timoun yo famni! (Jesus gives all the children families!)

~Eliana Manoucheka McBee

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Bridge Day 4- New Hope

We started off our day today by going to New Hope Activity Center, in a neighborhood that one of the Healing Haiti staff is from, to play with the children there. Smith originally told us there would only be around 60 children, but this was not the case. As we arrived into a seemingly small building, a flood of sweet smiling faces began greeting us by shaking our hands. The initial amount of children in the building seemed perfect, we brought enough balls, jump ropes, and bubbles to keep them pleased. However, more and more children began showing up, until eventually the courtyard was packed wall to wall. We were swarmed with kind smiles and warm hugs from children we had never seen in our lives. They didn’t care what we looked like or who we might be, they just took us in as we were and loved on us until our hearts were full. One might assume this would be an overwhelming experience, and while they wouldn’t be wrong, it was incredible to be in that courtyard, watching as it flooded each second with the beautiful Haitian children.
We weren’t quite sure what exactly we were going to do with nearly 200 kids, but we managed to do so much. They were truly fascinated with the colors and textures of our hair as well as the color of our skin. For a majority of the time, we sat as the girls styled our hair and closely examined our hands. As they pulled at our hair and made their best efforts to comb out the tangles with their fingers, we sat patiently, even though it was a bit painful at times. 
The children here have found so many ways to bless us just in the days we’ve been here. We have both fallen for so many kids while being here, and we both hope to remember all of them when we return to the states.

-Meghan Runyon and Abigail Wille

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Bridge Day 3- With Every Heartbeat

In a place known as the Home for the Sick and Dying Babies, the sound of a baby’s heartbeat kept my spirit alive today. 

When we walked into the nursery, the only sound was a child crying in his crib. No diaper. No one to give him attention. No hope in his eyes. But, he had a heartbeat. Steven had a heartbeat. 

Steven, was carefully lifted out of his crib, cradled and soothed. It didn’t last long. But his heartbeat did. He was passed around from one loving person to the next in an attempt to calm him until he was placed onto my chest. I guess God knew we both needed to be held and our hearts needed calmed today. 

Our hearts needed to beat together, it seemed. As the temperature rose and the sun grew stronger on the black, rubber matted playground; our connection grew with it. 

We found a patio, free of children and parents and cries and the chaos of the entryway. There was nothing but the concrete patio and benches, and a beautiful large shade tree in the middle. Our hearts beat together. Just a few steps away from the doors of the hospital, Steven showed his first bit of joyous emotion. I couldn’t help but smile. 

We played with an empty soda bottle, the only toy we needed. We enjoyed each other’s company in solitude for just a few moments. He ate lunch, we wandered the playground again, and then he slept. 

Knowing our time together was drawing near, I soaked up the last few heartbeats of Steven’s that I could. I held him close as he grasped my arms in his sleep. Back in the entrance of the hospital with about 15 people around, still the only thing I could hear was the tiny heartbeat of the beautiful child in my arms. Hoping that the sound of mine brought him just as much comfort and serenity as I was feeling. 

Does the heart beat just to break? It’s a muscle, right? So without tearing and breaking it cannot grow bigger and stronger. But how can something so small do something so big? How can someone so small do something so big? God held that that child’s heart today through me, and my heart through Steven. Thank you Steven, for the reminder that God knows our every heartbeat. 

~Jessica Varner

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Bridge Day 2- The Closer She Got...

Today we had the opportunity to go to Cite Sole. It was water truck day. As our tap tap pulled into the city, the children chanted with an utter excitement, “HEY YOU, HEY YOU, HEY YOU!” As we neared our stop, preconceived notions became our own real fears.

She didn’t think she could. In her moment of nervousness, she thought, “I can’t.” She doesn’t speak their language, didn’t know how to connect nor communicate with them. For a split second she looked out at everyone and thought, “I shouldn’t be here.” The enemy crept in feeding the fears and telling the lies, such as “will I be able to fully embrace these kids and give them any love?” God had a better plan. The big eyes and big smiles and open arms of the children who embraced her and nestled into her chest broke down every barrier she thought existed. The sweet boy who jumped up in her arms gave her the best hug of her life. Just like that, God allowed her “I can’t” to become “I can.”
The closer we were to reaching Cite Sole – she felt a wave of panic come over her. The self-doubting questions started filtering through her mind like a hamster wheel. “Can I do this?” “Do I have enough love to share with these people?” “What do I even have to offer them?” At that moment, she turned over her shoulder and saw something that felt familiar to her, something that felt like home. Her eyes and her heart were paying attention. She saw a row of soccer fields. She grew up playing soccer. It was a part of who she was. And there in the midst of a scary, out-of-her-comfort-zone situation, she felt comfort. God met her in that moment. She remembered a mantra her dad had uttered continuously when she played growing up. “Leave it all out on the field.” She wasn’t about to step on the soccer field, but she was about to enter the mission field. And in that moment of comfort, she knew that all that she had, rather, all God had given her, she had to leave that love out on the mission field. The best part about the day was, when kids were speaking in Creole and she was not exactly sure what to say, she muttered the word “Futbol?” and got to see their faces light up. As she left the mission field, she didn’t feel like she left anything at all. Something better happened. She gained understanding, love and met some people who loved the game of futbol just as much as she did.

The closer she got to Cite Sole, the reality of it became real to her. She froze. It was overwhelming. Hearing “HEY YOU, HEY YOU!” made her realize there was no turning back. She thought to herself, “Ok, here we go.” After walking out the tap tap, she never looked back. And then a sweet girl never left her side. When she needed to transition from holding the girl to holding the water hose, the little girl followed her every move, the three-year-old hand mirroring hers. Never in her wildest dreams could she have imagined connecting with a three-year-old girl that just wanted to be with her wherever she went. The expression, “HEY YOU” that initially overwhelmed her now had an endearing, comforting ring to it.

Their apprehension and American cultural barriers that keep people at arms length combined with the Haitian children’s uninhibited, instantaneous ability to connect at a pure level of genuineness ultimately transformed them.

~Victoria Abell, Natalie Macias, Jen Bassford

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Bridge Church- Day 1- Clearance for Haiti

I'm going to begin telling you about my journey to Haiti by looking back at 2007. In 2007 I was a stay at home mom, living in Seaside, CA with my husband and four sons. We lived on a modest budget, so any time I could find a deal for shoes I grabbed them. That year I purchased a pair of Privo closed toe shoes by Clark on clearance.

Today as I started my travel, I noticed my worn, but still functioning Privo's by Clark. They are now 12 years old ; most shoes are no longer effective after 12 years. In that moment, God showed me He's been preparing me my entire life for this very day. For all my days.

I currently live in Troy, Illinois, and in 2007 I hadn't even heard of Troy Illinois. Haiti had never even crossed my mind. God of course knew all along I'd be in Haiti in 2019. I've been waiting with baited breath, after hearing the glorious stories of this wonderful country, to come experience it for myself.

As I looked at my shoes this morning while boarding the plane, I knew God had a divine plan for me and my shoes all along.

For I know the plans I have for you,"declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

Your journey may not take you to Haiti. But, wherever your journey does take you, know that God has a plan to prosper you, and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jennifer Brown

Sunday, September 15, 2019

One Reason Church - Day 7

Today we attended Rendez-Vous Christ Church which is affiliated with Haiti Teen Challenge.  It was an amazing service and great music.  The message was about leadership and how God can use anyone to serve no matter their situation.  The pastor described many leaders that God ordained to serve his purpose who may not have been likely selections. For example, he spoke of Paul - a murder, Abraham - who was considered too old, Peter - denied God, Rebekah - a manipulator, Job - went bankrupt, David - committed adultery, and Ruth - was a widow.  Even though these individuals fell short during their journey in life, God can still use us to serve him in spite of our flaws, shortcomings, fears or failures. These are the things that add to our testimony and help others see the face and power of God. Failure is not something that we should fear, but rather embrace because our God can use the least to bring about greatness.

During our journey on the way to the mountain, there were passionate demonstrations by the Haitian people over the fuel shortage.  Therefore, we were not able to make it to experience shopping on the mountain top.  God was still in control and had other plans for us to serve. We were able to use our hands and heads to organize medical supplies, craft materials, and even clean the tap-tap! Without fail though, we shared laughter and smiles with the Healing Haiti's Staff through picture taking, hugs, and expressions of appreciation for their service to us while we were serving the people of Haiti. There are short-term missionaries that come to the guest house every week - that is a lot of mouths to feed daily, yet they do it effortlessly and with so much love and joy.

We shared a final fun fellowship opportunity as a team playing in the pool. We met a family from Honduras, another part of Haiti, Nicaragua and long-term missionaries who joined in on the fun as if we had known each other forever - it was a joyful time. To bring our trip to a wonderful close, we conducted our final devotional time with our "word of the week" to describe our experience:

Orchestrated - Honored - Touched - Closer - Blessed - Love - Empowering - Joy - Amazed - Changed - Ignore  (the things that distract you from God) - Thankful - Growth - Excited and Well-Done

So, our dear friends, family and followers, as these words fall upon your hearts and meditate within your minds....we hope that through these blogs you too have shared a piece of the experience with us. More importantly, we hope that you have laughed, cried, prayed, praised and been transformed along this journey with us. The people of Haiti await your head, hands and heart...Na we pita, Ke Bondye Benoui (See you later, May God Bless You).

~ Heather, Wendy and Team One Reason