Stranger Danger?

I have made a lot of progress since January. Praise God! He is so good to me! I made a list of things that all went RIGHT about my time in Haiti about a week after I got home. Sort of a "what I'm thankful for" list. I think sometimes when I don't consiously think about how good God is that I start to forget all the great things He has done (and is doing) for me. I'll come back to this point in a second...

I was talking to a complete stranger today... (Ok, I've seen her twice, so not a COMPLETE stranger.) Anyway, I do this a lot now (I'm turning into my mother!) I think coffee really loosens people up in a way similar to Alcohol, but you can actually remember the conversation later. It turns out that this girl and I are in a lot of the same circles, but we couldn't think of any of our mutual friends. So while we were brainstorming about how we knew each other it came up that she was moving to Asia to do language school and minister to college students. Neat! So when it was my turn I started to tell her about my future plans and my insecurities in them... so I'm spilling my heart to a stranger... and she cuts me off mid-sentence with a huge smile and says "But God is so great!" Like, "Psh! No worries girl, you are all insecure about this now, but its going to be taken care of, and its going to astound you how easily God's going to pull this off!"

THANK YOU!!! I needed to hear that!

This type of thing has happened a lot these past 6 months. I'll be talking to someone that I don't really know... and spilling my heart and word vomiting all over them. And instead of being like, wow, girl, you've got a long way to go, or something to that effect. They minimize my issue or make a joke out of it... And its SO encouraging! I have these memorable quotes written down in my phone, so I wont forget them.

For example, I was talking to this girl that I sort of know. We've had coffee once or twice, and see each other around about once per week. She asked how school was going. And I told her. (This was around March, so school was NOT going well. And I was panicked.) She shrugs and goes, "Well chances are, you'll graduate." I bet if I reminded her of saying that she would not even remember. But I've read that sentence over and over again for encouragement. And she was right! The next week I found out that I would be graduating in December! Whoop!

Strangers are so neat!

(For the mom's that read my blog... Don't worry. I only talk to safe strangers. And I don't take any candy from them.)

I think I have spent the past few days forgetting all that God has done for me. Which brings me back to the beginning of the post. I want to spend a few minutes dwelling on my blessings. Like at thanksgiving when you all go around the table and say what you are thankful for.

Just to create the right atmosphere in your mind...

I'm thankful for:
  • My family. They have been there for me with shoulders to cry on and encouragement to keep me going.
  • The promise of Heaven. I was thinking about it today. What a great day it will be when I finally get to see Jesus face-to-face and hug His neck. I can't wait to sit with my Heavenly Father and laugh and worship Him.
  • Mom. for always answering your phone. Even last semester on Monday afternoons when you knew there was a 100% chance that I was crying. For listening and putting up with me.
  • Dad. for always wanting to sit on the couch with me and laugh or watch mystery shows.
  • Surviving. Last semester was not an easy one emotionally and I literally didn't think I was going to make it... but I did.
  • The known. I know I'm loved, God has a plan, its all going to work out, most likely be graduating within 5 months.
  • The unknown. I'm honestly not as thankful for this yet. Just scared and insecure, but that is driving me to trust my Father... which I am thankful for.
  • New Life Church. I've just started going to this church and I'm loving it.
  • Music. That speaks to your soul. (Or that you can have a dance party to... Bieber Fever anyone?)
  • Siblings and friends. You've all been so encouraging to me over the years. I can't imagine where I'd be without learning important life lessons from you guys.
  • Summer break. Even though I'm working and taking classes its been good to at least say that it's summer.
  • Game nights. A little friendly competition in Tomball. Lifts my spirits always... even when the boys beat us.
  • Rest. I am finally getting back to my old sleeping habits! I don't think I've had an earthquake nightmare since right after spring break! I am starting to be able to fall asleep a little faster as well and don't take forever to fall asleep. Only sometimes does the train scare me as it whooshes through the night at 11:45 and 3:15. Other than that I'm sleeping, Praise God!
  • Spoons. With Caitlin, Jessie, & Andrea. You are each so special to me in your very own way.
  • Blessings. So much that I take for granted. My car, food, shelter, education, clothing, hygiene, freedom. All things that I never have to even think twice about because I've been so richly blessed.
  • Many more.

What are you thankful for?


In the Blink of an Eye

What just happened?

I looked out the window of the airplane fighting back the tears. I was so confused. "Is this really happening!? I'm leaving?"

I quit trying to fight the tears... here they came. Fast and furious. I wiped my eyes so I could at least catch my last glimpse of Haiti and try to see some of what happened in downtown PAP as I flew over...leaving.

Just 9 hours ago, I told my dad on the phone that I had emailed my advisor at school and asked her to drop my classes for the semester because I was stuck in Haiti. I wasn't coming home for at least a month or maybe three. They weren't letting anyone that wasn't critically injured leave. Or at least that's what I thought.

Last night I went to bed asking God for the strength to be here for an indefinite amount of time. I was scared, but also really excited about my trip extension. God brought me here for this time and that was exciting. I still don't sleep well. The tremors wake me up. And each time one comes I feel like I'm going to have a heart attack and throw up, all at the same time. But I knew God had me there for a reason. To accomplish His purpose...and... Now I'm leaving. Deserting.

I woke up at 5 am to a big tremor. Shortly after that I heard a voice through my window say, "Get up! We have a flight out for you all." Immediately I hope that the flight is just for the group from Kentucky, but then they handed me a paper to fill out also.
I asked, "Do I have to go?" Of course, the answer was yes, I had to leave. I didn't get a chance to think about it or say goodbye to Sheryl and Susan, the nurses I'd spent the past 3 days with in the clinic.

(This photo was taken Wednesday, about 24 hours post quake. This was the best we could do for smiles)

I got rushed to the car and we left. That was it. We had 10 minutes to pack 5 minutes to fill out paperwork, then got in the car and headed to the airport. What happened was Samaritan's Purse was sending a plane with doctors and equipment to Haiti and they didn't want to take an empty plane back to the U.S. They offered to take our volunteer group back on their return flight. So off we went to the airport.

The airport was total chaos. People everywhere trying desperately to get out of the country. Some were in wheelchairs and had make-shift splints on their legs. Most had dried blood on them and still fresh cuts. Yelling, SCREAMING, in Kreyol. That was the first time I ever felt somewhat unsafe because of my skin color.

After waiting outside a while we walked through the airport. We were trying to walk quickly to our plane, but also were shocked at the sight of the airport. No one got exit stamps on our passports. The only security I went through was showing them the cover of my American passport. They didn't even check the picture. I exited the airport through what used to be a wall, now just a hole. Got on the plane and tried to see what I could from the runway. I have never seen so many planes on this runway. Planes from Jamaica, Switzerland, France, U.S, Virgin Islands, Canada, Italy... It was crazy.

I walked onto the most luxourious plane I've ever seen. Recliner seats, couches, TVs with tracking devices to show us where we were en route.

I always go through a form of reverse culture shock when I re-enter the U.S. But this time was different. I was leaving at a time of unspeakable need. On a luxury plane! Thankfully there were about 10 different newspapers in the plane from the past few days, so all we did the whole trip was read the paper and then trade with someone else. Before I knew it, we were landing. None of our families knew that we were coming home because communication was too difficult and our flight out wasn't a guarantee.

So first thing I did after landing was call my dad.
*ringing, ringing*

"Hey honey I'm in a meeting I'll call you back in a second."

I thought: *WHAT?!?! A MEETING? Wow, I thought you'd be a little happier to hear from me.*
I said: "oh... ok. well... I just wanted to tell you I'm in Florida."

Then he realized it was me. His voice caught for a second and then, gasped. (He thought it was my mom calling.) But, of course, once he found out it was me, we talked. Even though I was still wishing I was in Haiti, I know my parents were glad I was safely on American soil.

The meeting that my dad was in was with Andre Clemons, Joey Arceneaux, and a few of his other colleagues in the oilfield buisness. They were renting a plane to fly down doctors and medical supplies to Global Outreach to assist in the relief efforts. And they did. That plane flew out almost one week later, delivering much needed help to those people. These men mean so much to me, and some of them I haven't even met. They just knew that I was there, which made it more personal to them. Some of them have only met my dad once, but God used those relationships to further His kingdom and save His people.

After a quick phone conversation with my parents and a text to some friends that I knew would spread the word that I was home safe, I got my luggage and headed to the main airport. We then had to figure out how to get to the Miami International Airport (MIA) so that we could get home. The cheapest form of transportation for 10 people was a stretch limo. REALLY? a limo! So, you're saying that I just left the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, in its time of greatest desperation, on a luxury plane and then was transported from one airport to another in a limo? wow.

We got to the Miami Airport and the group from Kentucky said their goodbyes to go catch their plane. I went to try and get my ticket changed because I was originally supposed to fly the next day. I was still wearing my scrubs because after the earthquake I started wearing them to sleep in, in case I had to wake up fast. I didn't get a chance to change before we flew out. Also, I thought it might help my case some... I was wrong. The lady at the ticket counter told me that my ticket was "invalid" because I "went out of sequence by skipping my PAP to MIA flight."

I did my best to stay calm and dry-eyed, while explaining to her that I had just come from Port Au Prince. Maybe she'd seen it in the news recently? All the flights were canceled because of the huge natural disaster, but maybe she missed that memo.

I finally told her, I didn't care what she had to do, or if I had to pay for the flight, I needed to get home that night. I turned around to see a group of about 5 Haitians standing around me at the counter, waiting for me to finish my conversation with the ticketing agent. They were eager and hopeful to hear good news. Asking me if I knew so-and-so, or had heard from their sister or brother. Thinking maybe of the 2 million people in Port Au Prince, that I had met them post quake. Both hope and despair filling their eyes as they asked their questions. I could see that they all wished they were me, and had been there for the quake, so at least they would be able to try and find their families. But they were stuck with no flights out. I felt them thinking *Why did she leave? How could she do that?* and I agreed, I wish I had been able to stay.

But God had other plans.


My Strong Tower

(Jan 13, 2010)
I barely slept last night. I've never been so scared in my life. I pulled my mattress onto the ground, but was not allowed to sleep outside, where I would have much rather been. It felt like we had an aftershock almost every minute or at least a tremor. I'm not sure what the difference is between the two. I prayed, read the psalms and journaled all night.

When I was little my parents had a rule for my brother, Coleman, and I on Christmas Eve. We were not allowed to get out of bed before daylight on Christmas morning. I'm sure they made this rule so that Coleman, who loves Christmas, would not wake them up at 4:30 ready to open presents. However, I never had a problem with that because I love sleep so much. We always shared a room on Christmas Eve too. So there was one Christmas that Coleman cried, (CRIED!!) because the he thought the sun would never come up and he wanted to get out of bed and open presents. (He was little so there is no need to make fun of him now...)

...This story has a point...

That is how I felt last night. I prayed and prayed that the sun would come up soon, so I could get out of bed and out of this building that felt like it would collapse at any second. I felt like I was in prison in my bed, I was terrified and antsy. With every tremor I felt like my heart dropped into my stomach and I couldn't breathe. I was definitely more scared last night than during the initial 30-45 seconds of shaking. Now I had seen what the earthquake was capable of in the clinic.

So FINALLY at 5am the sun came up and I bounced out of bed and headed to the clinic to find Sheryl Brumley and Susan Bruns, the nurses I was working with. There was no one at the clinic, so we waited until later to open. I found out that the men from the compound were out trying to save a girl that was buried up to her shoulders. It was the daughter of the housekeeper of one of the families on the Global Outreach Compound. (I later found out that she didn't make it.)

This day was really difficult. I spent all day in the clinic and then wrote an email to my dad. I could barely see the computer screen through my tears as I typed at the keyboard. I just needed to tell my dad what was going on. I quickly got really close with the nurses I was working with, but everyone else had family and friends at the compound and I had just met everyone less than 48 hours before the earthquake. I needed my daddy to tell me it was all going to be alright. He wasn't actually there, but my Heavenly Father was and He didn't let me down. Not even for a second.

I will never know how many people saw this email or heard it read out loud in school. My parents sent it to everyone they know and so on and so forth. I got home and found my name on people's facebooks and blogs and I have no idea who they are or how they found out about me. God really used the pain and suffering that I saw that day to make His name great.

On Jan 13, 2010, at 7:52 PM, "Gonzalez, Noelle" noellegonzalez@neo.tamu.edu> wrote:

This has been the hardest day of my life. I don't know how I've made it. God is gracious and faithful and gave me the strength I needed to get through it.
I've been at the clinic for 13 hours today and just left. God gave me the strength I needed to make it through, but as soon as I left I started crying and I am still weeping as I write. I don't even know where to begin, but please just pray for rest tonight and strength tomorrow. I barely got any sleep last night because of the tremors. Everything that I felt or heard scared me and I thought we were going to have another one. There have been some significant tremors today as well, but its less scary if you are up and able to run outside quickly. I just feel trapped in my bed and I would prefer to sleep outside, but I don't know that would help my worries that much. Whenever I'm not in the clinic or working on something I am scared and emotional.
I know that all of us here on the compound are suffering to some extent from Post traumatic stress. We were flooded with patients yesterday as soon as the shaking stopped. I have never seen such pain and suffering. I pray that I will never have to see that much trauma ever again.
I'm thankful that we are safe and that we are not in PAP because we would be completely overrun and I don't know that I have the strength to deal with that.
I KNOW the Lord was my strength and shield today and yesterday and will be tomorrow. I know that at least one man that we treated yesterday died in the night and a lady that we have been caring for since 11am this morning died about 2 hours ago. We all gathered around and prayed over her and her boyfriend as she died, and I can't even begin to express the pain felt in that room. The only thing that gives me strength and hope is that I know where my strength and hope lies.

Its easy to think that the worst is over, but there is so much need and devastation that I don't know how we could ever begin to help them all. All of them need hospitals, but the few hospitals that survived the quake are overrun by people. On top of that those that could get to a hospital don't have money to pay for care. we don't know what to do with the woman that died in the clinic tonight because her boyfriend doesn't have the money to pay to have her moved or buried. I assisted in 3 major surgeries today and I know there will be more to come.
I don't know if you've been watching CNN, but they keep showing a picture of a boy covered in cement ash. That is what most of our patients look like. They have cement embedded in their wounds and a nearby flour mill exploded, so many of our patients are covered in burns, cement dust, and flour.
Please pray for strength. I've heard that we are supposed to get 2,000lbs of medical supplies tomorrow on an airplane and we are praying that there will be orthopedists and anesthesiologists on that plane as well, because even with supplies that doesn't make us surgeons. We've splinted countless legs and arms and sewed up as many wounds as you can count. We don't have the anesthesia necessary to help these people adequately, so they are going through an incredible amount of pain. I know the Lord is with these people because there is no way that they could have survived short of a miracle. Many people have not heard about their families. The 4 Haitian doctors that have been a complete miracle and blessing from the Lord have not been able to hear from their families and they are all very worried. They might go tomorrow to see if they can locate their families, so please be praying for them and for us if they are missing from the clinic tomorrow.

I don't know what else to say other than Pray pray pray. Pray for:

-strength for us as we open our clinic doors again tomorrow. (sometimes that's the hardest part. We are ok when we are working, but the anticipation of knowing what's coming can be the worst.)

-rest for me and the rest of the team and the entire country. Every time I lay down I get scared and can feel the aftershocks. And when I do sleep I have earthquake dreams. We just had a pretty significant aftershock 10 minutes ago (8:30 our time here in Haiti), but I feel tremors almost every minute or so.

-Pray for peace and safety for those left in the cold tonight with no where to stay (its a very cold night considering that we are in Haiti.)

-Pray for those still buried that are alive and for the families of those that have not heard from their loved ones and those that have loved ones that have died.

I love you all. This has been a horrific 30 hours, but I know that the Lord is my rock and redeemer. He is my strength and my shield, and he is my strong tower that no earthquake can shake.

I will try and update tomorrow. Please send to all. feel free to update my facebook

Love you and I wish you were here to hug me!

P.S. If anyone has information about Gersan and Betty and their church and Pascal and Dorthy I would love to know that they are all alright. I am praying for them, but if I could get specifics that would be great too. I heard that Gersan and Betty are ok, but not about my other friends and their church. Also if anyone has talked with those in Limbe I'd love to hear that too. I know that was probably far enough away that they are ok, but I'd still like to know.

The 2,000 pounds of medical supplies didn't come when I was there. Neither did the doctors. But thanks be to God, He supplied what we needed when we needed it. Whether it was bandages, gloves, small hands to fit in the only (tiny) gloves we had left, grace, peace, love, wisdom, or strength.


And Then God Spoke

Psalm 29:8- "The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;"

(January 12, 2010)

A 7.0 Mag earthquake hit Legone, Haiti at 4:53pm Haitian time.

5 minutes later, I was in the clinic. That's when I realized how bad it really was. I was able to call my parents and leave a message via skype phone, but all that got through of my message was "Hi.... Earthquake.....I'm OK.... Love you."

I sent this email that night to my parents...

I am OK!!

Praise the Lord. All those on our team here are doing well. Please pray for those in PAP and out here where I am. We have been working nonstop since it happened and we can't even begin to help with this magnitude of need. Please pray for all those injured and keep us all in your prayers. I've never been through an earthquake, but I think that was a pretty monstrous one. We keep feeling tremors so please keep that in your prayers also.

I am here for a reason. Praise the Lord. "And who knows but that you have come to this position for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14

Please forward this message to all.

I Love you all dearly

...and the emails started flying. I don't think I'll ever truly know how many people were praying for me during that time and for the past 6 months. My parents and friends from camp sent emails to everyone they knew and posted updates on facebook, those people sent updates to everyone they knew, and so on. I know for a fact that people in multiple continents were praying for me and for the Haitian people.

Last night I was truly scared again. I felt like I was back in Haiti, in my little bunk bed, falling asleep the night before the earthquake, but this time, I knew what was coming. I knew how scary it was going to be. I knew people were going to bleed and die in my arms, I knew that I'd have Post Traumatic Stress for the next 6 months, I knew I'd call my mom at least once a week crying so hard I could barely talk, I knew I wouldn't sleep well for another couple months, I knew how stressful it would be and that I'd end up with gray hair, I knew my life would be changed forever...

Its hard to think that its been 6 months since the earthquake and that the majority of people in the world won't even give it a fleeting thought. Sometimes I feel so selfish for asking for so much prayer this past semester. I mean, I didn't lose my house, my leg, or any family members. There are hundreds of thousands of people that DID. Some lost all 3!

My thoughts are kind of jumbled right now, but one thing my mom reminded me of last night is something I told her 6 months ago in an email...

"I know that the Lord is my rock and redeemer. He is my strength and my shield, and he is my strong tower that no earthquake can shake."

That night, 6 Months ago, I read Psalm 23-34. I felt like a terrified little sheep in need of a shepherd, so I started in Psalm 23. Then I kept reading. I encourage you to read through that passage again. It was really encouraging!

I'll write much, much more about what really happened and circumstances of the earthquake later. I'll also write a lot about how God has used that to glorify Himself.
Just not today. Stay tuned.

Please keep Haiti and its people in your prayers!


Changing Hearts

(January 5, 2010)

On the way to the airport to pick up the team from Frontier Camp Erin and I rode with Pascal. It was raining, and traffic was absolutely terrible, so we had a lot of time to chat.

Pascal told us her testimony. She used to be a very popular Catholic singer in Haiti. She would sing at every event from a wedding to a funeral to large religious holidays. She had numerous CDs out and was wildly popular. She started getting really depressed and knew that she didn't believe in the things that she sang about. She knew that she would never be able to be good enough that Heaven would be guaranteed, and the downward spiral of depression kept on spiraling downward. She consulted some friends about her hopelessness and they basically told her that her only options were to just deal with it and pretend she was fine, or commit suicide.

At that point she considered both and then decided that there HAD to be another option. Through a series of events she accepted Christ, left the Catholic church, (and her job of being a catholic singing celeb in Haiti.) She caused a big ruckus in the Catholic Church because she left, but because everyone was so interested in why she left she was able to share her new faith with many people! She has mentored and led many women to Christ over the past few years. Including the woman I talked about in my earlier post. Pascal is an amazing lady... and SO funny!

So we picked up the team at the airport and headed back to the Valcin's house to repack and a regroup.

Cue flat tire #2...
Remember how it had been pouring rain? Well it still was! Some were upset, some made the most of it. Some shrugged and said, "Ayti la"... "This is Haiti."

We got the tire issue taken care of, ate a great dinner and got some rest.

We woke up super early the next morning to eat a good breakfast and pack and re-pack the Montero with all our stuff to go to Jacob's Well, then headed to the airport.

Cue flat tire #3.
So we loaded all their stuff into a Tap-tap (Haitian type of taxi) and we continued on our way to the airport ready for camp.

Let me give you a little background information on Jacob's Well camp and Haiti:

-The population is 9 million, with 40% of those under the age of 14.

-The vision is to train existing children's leaders, mainly those involved in AWANA already, to conduct camping ministry. We realize that Haitians are the future of Haiti, so we want to train them to carry on camp on their own. We want a place where kids can come to play, experience God's creation and try new things, connect with a community that loves, serves, and teaches them, learn God's word and apply it to their lives, and create and strengthen external relationships.
(from the Jacob's Well Camp website)

-The Camp is located in Limbe, Haiti. Its in the Orange in the top of the country.
The place that we have done camp is a little out of the city of Limbe. The farther out of the city that you go the more prevalent Vodoo is. When we first started this camp there were about 4 Voodoo temples within a stones throw from camp. Now there are only two, one is much smaller and one has already told Gersan that when he wants to buy the property its for sale. Also, the Voodoo priest's daughters came to camp and have accepted Christ!!

-Frontier Camp's first trip was taken over Christmas break of 2006-07. There were no buildings on site and everything was held outside. There have been 4 large-group trips taken by Frontier Camp since then. Some other small trips have been taken to work on building a restroom, cabins, an outdoor kitchen, shower house and a NEW bathroom facility. When I was there last, there was only a restroom building. I don't think I'm going to recognize it when I return!

-A church has been planted at the campsite as well. Over the 3 years that I've been going, I've gotten to see that church grow and the children at camp accept Christ, start attending church, memorize verses. Its been so neat to see how God is changing that village. 5 years ago, those children in the village were beating of voodoo drums and had no real hope, now they are singing songs about Jesus! Its been so neat to see them grow.

-Camp started out with about 100 campers, and this past year we had about 270 kids come to camp.

God has done so many things through Jacob's Well and I know that He will continue to do so.

This is Poupette- She doesn't know yet at this point, but she's going to be my best friend!
She really grew up in one year!
It was so great to be able to talk to her some. She is so funny, just says things then laughs at me. Her face was priceless when I spoke whole sentences to her in Kreyol. Like amazement, shock, and glee!

Shelove, the one on the far left has also become a close friend of mine. Always looking out for me!
Here we are again in December 08.
Jacob's Well Camp watching Bible Drama. (Haitian's are good at dramas!)
Have I mentioned that Haiti Is beautiful? Both the sunrises, the sunsets and the children!


Catching up

Sorry I fell behind in my blogging, I'll be combining days to catch up...

(January 2, 2010)

This was the Haitian thanksgiving, so we woke up, ate pumpkin soup and then got ready for brunch! Dr. Rachel had invited us to have brunch at her house and, so after pumpkin soup breakfast we went over there. We were served plantains, of course, and the traditional rice and beans, chicken, vegetables, and mystery meat pizza. I'm sure that's not what its called, but that's what us interns named it. We had already had something very similar to this the past week. Basically it's some sort of meat with a jerky-like texture, somewhat spicy, and really dark—like jerky. But it doesn't taste like jerky and the Valcin girls told us they had no idea what was in it. So you have your mystery meat that is put between two pieces of pie crust type bread. I'm not really sure how to explain it. Previously, it had been mystery meat pillows, but this was more like a pizza or mystery meat pie. Very interesting…

From brunch we were given a ride to a church for a wedding. Gersan was asked to officiate a wedding between a girl that had grown up in his church and a man that came to Haiti as a missionary. I was really excited to see a Haitian wedding, but it was actually pretty traditional American. I don't know if all Haitian weddings are that way, or if it was that way because one of them was American. The service was simple, translated into both English and French, so that was cool. Afterwards we all went outside and had dinner under tents by candle light. Dinner was really good, but would come back to haunt us.

After the wedding Robert got to drive us all home. Driving is definitely an experience in Haiti. Its every man for himself, and honk your horn like there is no tomorrow! I've always wanted to drive there! But I don't know how to drive a standard transmission, so I wasn't able to… maybe next time!

That night Erin and I spent a lot of time talking to Betty about Voodoo and Satan's hold in Haiti. The stories she toldwere incredible… GOD's stories are incredible! Betty was telling Erin and I things about voodoo and spirits that were shocking! Things that I didn't think happened in the world anymore. Part of me wanted to be kind of freaked out and scared, but listening to her talk about the Lord and His goodness and power so matter-of-factly was really a testimony of faith! She wasn't scared, she wasn't even intimidated. It was something they all dealt with there and they trusted God and His power. I think that night, my view of God was broadened. I don't know how else to describe it. I learned things that night that I thought I knew, and would have told you that I knew. I thought I believed those things about God, but was still surprised to hear them. God really taught me a lot about himself and his POWER that night.

We were talking about 1 Peter 5:8 "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." Betty said, "Satan is such a deceiver and he does prowl like a lion, but he has no teeth because Jesus broke them at the cross." AMEN! Praise Christ! This woman is such a testimony of faith, she has been UP CLOSE and personal with real demons, had real CONVERSATIONS with evil spirits, and she has seen Christ's power prevail. I wish I had tape recorded this conversation for everyone to hear.

(January 3, 2010)

The next morning was interesting… I'm pretty sure that 4 out of us 5 interns were sick… and we found out later a lot of our Haitian friends that also attended the wedding were sick too…Now that's a good sign! We all had "Jwaye de Ayti" or "Haitian Happiness!", which in laymen's terms means "Diarrhea!"

We needed to finish getting everything ready for camp and for when the rest of the team from Frontier Camp came to do Jacob's Well. Most of this day was spent painting and loading the vehicle that would take our supplies over the mountains to camp in Limbe. I'll give you the story on camp later.

(January 4, 2010)

Sunday morning. We woke up at 5:30 and ate breakfast before church. Then we attended Gersan's church along with about 1,500 others. The service was in French, and I think I've mentioned this before, but it really gives me a picture of heaven to worship in another language!

That night Erin and I went up to the roof to watch the sunset. Erin is not a huge fan of heights so this was a big deal. The house is 3 stories tall and the roof is just a flat surface with no rails or anything. Also to get up there you have to take a ladder off the balcony hang out over 3 stories of nothingness and then climb the ladder to the roof. I'm not scared of heights, but I got a little dizzy looking down. So anyway, Erin and I decided to go and not tell the boys, so that way it was less intimidating. We could see all of Port Au Prince and even watched a few planes land at the airport.

Self-timered a few pictures…

You can't see very well from here, but the airport is on the right side of the picture and, you can kindof see the mountains in the background… that's close to where I was when things got exciting 8 days later.

Chatted with the cuties on the next roof. I'm sure they had no idea what those crazy 'Blancs' (White people) were doing on the roof dancing around and singing and taking pictures.


Real Life

Hi friends,

Real life has been busy these past few days. I've gotten texts and emails reminding me that I am falling behind on my blog. Life in Haiti 6 months ago was pretty busy too, but I promise I'll work on this more this coming week. I'd like to take a second to tell you that I haven't forgotten about blogging. No worries.

I just finished my final for one of the classes I'm taking this summer! (I'm that much closer to graduating !!!!!!) My other class starts tomorrow morning. I've been excited about this class for 4 years, so it better be good!

This weekend I spent a lot of time in the car. It was totally worth it because I got to spend time with family and good friends. That was great!

The group pictured above all has been enjoying lots of time together for some friendly (and at times, not so friendly) competition.

Judah Bowles (age 3) decided that everyone needed to wear sunglasses before dinner on Friday night. Where did he get all these sunglasses you ask? My mother's stash. She went through a time in her life when she bought lots of sunglasses... didn't we all? I mean, the sun is going to be around forever, so we might as well be prepared! I know one day the sun will fall from the sky, and I'm going to want to watch it, but I'll probably need sunglasses for that too! I hope I'm close to mom's stash!

Praise God for His goodness and wisdom. I'm so thankful that He knows better than I. I'm so excited to walk this road with Him! If you have not heard this song, go listen now! Its an old Hymn, that was re-done. Hymns are just the best!

Recently, I have been really trusting that God knows what my future holds because I really have no clue. To be totally honest with you, I am 100% believing that He's got it under control and I'm excited to know what He has in store. Parts of me wish I knew what it was, but at the same time I have kept Isaiah 30:21 close to my heart.

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."..... I'm walking, and I'm listening. Trying to be faithful.

The problem with the way I had been thinking about that verse and that passage is that when it says "you will hear a voice BEHIND you," I was subconsiously thinking literally, BEHIND ME.

I am so thankful that God is behind me, backing me up, catching me when I fall, but I had also let myself feel like I was running blindfolded, and somewhat panicked, through a dark alley waiting for God to shout from behind, saying, "LEFT!" or "Turn right in 3 steps!"

Thankfully that is totally NOT how it is.

I was reminded by this song last night that not only am I walking in faith through this life, listening for God's directions, but I am FOLLOWING Him too! God "hems me in behind and before." His "word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path". He holds me in His hands and covers me with His wings. There is nowhere I can go apart from Him!!

So I'm not running blind.

"You lead me, and keep me from falling. You carry me close to your heart. And surely, goodness and mercy will follow me"



Bon Ani!

So, December has one more day than June.... Consequently I'm more than one day behind... So I'm going to combine and consolidate some days. Hope no one minds!

(December 31, 2009)
Erin and I worked at the General Hospital again, but this time we basically shadowed a doctor that worked for the same company that Doctor Rachel worked for. I-TECH. He worked for I-TECH,which to my understanding is a government funded program in which those with HIV/SIDA or those with positive partners could come and receive tests and medicine free of charge.

We spoke to the doctor at length because he said that it is so difficult when people come in and have HIV and are married or planning to get married and have children. HIV is easily prevented if people just take the right precautions. However many Haitians refuse to do so. The doctor told us that HIV/AIDS work in a country like Haiti can be very frustrating!

We left the hospital right after lunch that day. December 31-Jan 2 are holidays in Haiti. They have New Years and then a holiday somewhat like our Thanksgiving on the 2nd. Traffic was terrible and I got to take lots of pictures from the road.

H1N1 (Swine flu) information and prevention techniques painted on a wall in town. These were everywhere.
A poster in the hospital about AIDS prevention.This is what the houses looked like pre earthquake. All built up on top of each other on a hillside.

(January 1, 2010)

Who knew what this year would bring? ... and what God still has in store for it!

We went up to the roof to watch the sunset on the last day of 2009 and then got ready for the church service that night.

Haitians always spend New Year's Eve at their place of worship, be that church or a voodoo temple. We went to Gersan's church, Church of the Evangelical Community of Haiti in Port au Prince and sang songs and Gersan gave a short message.

This little girl sat with her dad as he played the bass for the music and she would put her hand on the strings and "help." SO cute! If you have never had the pleasure of hearing Haitians sing then you are missing out. It is a slice of heaven on earth to hear these beautiful people worship our God.
There were 20-25 people sitting in the front row of the church dressed all in white. The women wore white dresses and the men white pants and white shirts. Each went up one by one and gave their testimonies. These were the people that had placed their faith in Christ this past year. They were about to be baptized to bring in the new year! I couldn't understand most of what they were saying I could feel the joy and hear their love for Christ in their voices. I could pick out key words and try to figure out some of their testimonies.

God was glorified that night! There was one lady in particular that had been deeply involved with voodoo and had accepted Christ a few months before. You can read about part of that here. I got to hear more about her story and how Christ has worked in her life and its truly incredible. She had previously been in a relationship with a voodoo priestess and I found out later that she, the priestess was actually at the service that night instead of being at the temple. She clearly heard God's word numerous times that night!

After all the testimonies Gersan baptized each one of them. It was so beautiful to see a Haitian, dressed all in white, formerly a captive sinner, saved by the grace of God being baptized and coming out of the water with joy painted on their faces. It was not much different that an American baptism, but to see it there, in another language gave me a clearer picture of all races and backgrounds and languages worshiping our God.

After the baptism service there was an open time for people to get up and talk about what God had done in their lives that year. One girl said that she was in the school in Gonaives during the flood earlier in 2009. She lost 4 siblings in that collapse and from her family, only her and her sister survived. She praised God for his protection and faithfulness.

I can only imagine the stories that will be told this New Years.

After the stories of thanksgiving the congregation began to pray. We prayed beginning at 11:55 and prayed until 12:05. It was neat to be before the throne of God as our last act of '09 and first of '10.

Then it began... "BON ANI!" (HAPPY NEW YEAR!) We gave each other the traditional greeting, a hug and kiss on both cheeks. Then we drank hot chocolate and ate pumpkin soup. A Haitian tradition.

Haitians spend January 1st & 2nd eating pumpkin soup and visiting friends. You don't eat a real meal, but go and visit people and at each stop you are supposed to eat pumpkin soup and catch up. We didn't do this because the Valcin's were very busy, so we didn't go around from house to house, but we did eat a lot of pumpkin soup.

Pumpkin soup is an interesting dish. Its different depending on who makes it. I like the broth and the vegetables, but try to stay away from the meat. If a Haitian can't tell me what kind of meat it is, I generally will still eat it, but I try to be pretty careful. Sometimes you find gristle, bones, or even a chicken trachea in your soup! (I found the trachea in my cup and asked Daryl if he wanted the rest!)

Erin and I preferred baby holding to eating!

By now it was like 3:30 am, so we went home to take a nap before dinner that night.

We went to a house party for someone from church the night of the 1st. GOOD Haitian food was enjoyed by all.

Also, Pascal came with us. She was a friend of the Valcin's. More about her later. She has a great story. That was the night that we became friends!


How Foolish I Feel

This post is going to be hard for me to write. Some of it is graphic. I want to effectively communicate what I saw, so I don't think I can leave out certain details. However, these things were very hard for me to see and harder for me to write.

Gersan had done His best to warn, and prepare us for what we would see at the General Hospital today. I was prepared mentally, but not emotionally. I still thought God had brought me to Haiti to help people. But Gersan had been right. God didn't need me for his plans, He wanted to change my heart!

Doctor Rachel Coq came to pick us up early in the morning. We got to talk a lot about healthcare in Haiti and some of the issues that they face. We found out that she is a big deal, not only in Haiti, but worldwide. She was preparing to go to a conference in South Africa and she had been many other places for work. She worked with AIDS patients, "SIDA" in Kreyol, and we spent the car ride to the Hospital talking about that. I really enjoyed spending time with her. She is one of those rare beautiful people that everything she does seems beautiful and elegant. I loved listening to her accent and the way she talked about her people. I could tell she loved her work and the ones she worked with.

We arrived at the hospital and she walked us in the door, spoke briefly with someone then said, "Orevwa!"

"OREVWA??!?!" – "YOU'RE LEAVING!???"

Yes, she was leaving. She had other things to do that day, so she was going to leave us with a lady in the administration office. In Haiti, It's hard to tell who is friends with whom, because they are all so friendly, so I don't know if Rachel knew the lady we got left with, or if she was a stranger. Either way we got left in the administration office.

"ok. We can handle this." We tell our selves. "This is Haiti" quickly became our motto for anything that went different than we planned.

After waiting over an hour in the office watching people come and go, and no one acknowledging our existence, we decided they had totally forgotten about us. The walls were white, and so were we, maybe we blended in? Then the head charge nurse said, "Follow me." So we did, she took us to another nurse, who walked us to the pediatric building. She explained that she was a maternity nurse and wanted to leave us with someone in that department, so she introduced us to Naomi, a pediatric nurse. Did I mention that every person down the line spoke less and less English? They asked who is staying and who wants to go to the surgery building? .... Wow. That sounds exciting, but I think we'll stick together. (We thought our mothers would appreciate that.)

And so our hospital tour began. I know we were both humbled by the next few hours. We thought we were going to come in and change the world, but God needed to break our hearts and humble us first… He did.

I don't think I was prepared for what I saw after that. In a sense I was, because they had prepared me for the worst. I'm not really surprised by anything I see in Haiti anymore, but sometimes its still hard to take in.

There were 3 rooms in the "main" part of the pedi ward. Naomi showed us around and stopped by almost every bed explaining what was wrong with each child. She spoke French with an attempt at an American accent and we tried to add a French accent to our English. Communication was a battle for sure! Every child was febrile, anemic, malnourished, and had edema. Some had infections, but I got the idea that the malnourishment caused all the problems. After telling us what each child had, she would look at us with a look that said, "Can you help?"


There was room upon room of children, younger, older, babies, infants, teens… all malnourished and uncared for. I could tell which children had families and money by how well they were cared for. Some were just laying there with no IV, no medicine, nothing. Just waiting to die. There was one baby that the nurse wanted to show us. She had no IV, no medication, and no care. She was hydrocephalic; a condition where there is a buildup of fluid inside the skull and severe brain swelling occurs causing deformation. This sweet baby had not been fed or cared for, she was tinier than tiny. Her arms and legs were no bigger than one of my little fingers. Both eyes were severely infected; I wouldn't doubt that she had become blind from the infection. Nothing was being done. The nurses were all sure to show her to Erin and I multiple times, like an animal at the zoo, but not a sweet baby girl that God loves dearly.

We were then led down a hallway. I new smell hit me square in the face. Rancid. I thought, "Where are we going?" I honestly thought we were leaving through the back abandoned hallway door or something, but no, we walked into another room. There were 3-5 children per bed. Most had dried food or vomit on them; some were lying in beds with sheets that looked as if they had been soiled over and over without being changed. They seemed to all have mental problems. They reached out us like beggars in jail through the bars of their cribs. They weren't begging for money, but for someone to love them. The nurses would slap their hands and scold as they reached out to us. Some looked as old as 12, but didn't have speech or controlled movements, almost as if they had never been held or stimulated so they never developed right.

These were the children with no mothers or fathers: Orphans. I felt as if I had been kicked in the stomach. These were God's children, the apple of His eye. To be totally honest with you, my first reaction upon walking into that room was to recoil, and shy away when they reached out. Those kids were dirty and smelled bad. I needed purell, gloves, and a facemask before I got close to them. Then a split second later I wanted to sit on the floor and cry. Then I wanted to pick them all up, bathe them and hold them. Oh! How Jesus would have loved them! Oh, how He DOES love them!

The nurse hurried us off to another room. There was a man there who spoke decent English and showed us around his room explaining what the children had there. Most were teens with heart problems like arrhythmias, or other problems like Tuberculosis and meningitis.

From there we were taken to the Neonatal ICU where a doctor that spoke French and Creole, but not a word of English was working. Basically we stood and looked at the babies for the next few hours. There was nothing for us to do in the hospital, which is why we kept getting passed around to the next person, and on down the line. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the NICU. All the babies in there were premature and had mothers that were HIV/AIDS. I can't even begin to tell you how tiny these babies were. I bottle fed a few and thought they would be too little to suck, but somehow they did. Those babies were fighters, fighting for their lives. What a hard life they had ahead of them. Haiti is so hot of a place that you wouldn't think they would need incubators, but those babies were so little and cold. Some were wrapped in plastic baggies wrapped so tight, so the heat wouldn't escape.

We stayed there, feeling very useless and in the way, but enjoying holding the babies and loving them whether we were in the way or not.

I think both me and Erin felt a little guilty for not working a longer day…. And not really doing anything other than be "on tour" in the hospital. God still had humbling to do. We both went home feeling very foolish and frustrated and helpless…and heartbroken.

Here is something from my prayer journal that night: "How silly of me to think I could come here and do something for you, God… I feel so foolish and arrogant that I assumed we could actually be of some help to these people. I don't even speak the language or know anything about medicine. I pray that you will give me a humble heart to see and know you. I pray that I won't become discouraged about how little I can help, but become motivated to learn and apply myself more."

It was a hard day to say the least. I hope I adequately described the tragedy and pain I saw that day. God loves those children, He has not forgotten them, although it seems like everyone else had. I had to keep telling myself over and over, God loves and knows those babies!


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