Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Tet Washing Game

Being the Hands & Feet for a Child’s Head

While in Haiti one of the assignments we were given was to help the young boys with the healing of some type of fungal infection that was persistently plaguing the kids. There were various reasons given of why these boys were suffering from this infection and they explained the many ways they tried to get rid of it.

Kelsey (one of the missionaries I got the privilege of living with) and I started the Tet (head) Washing Game on February 13th. The task was daunting! The first step they said, all the children had to get their heads shaved. Shaved, with razor blades not with clippers like in America. There were many cuts and blood and yelling. It was horrible! Kelsey and I felt overwhelmed and didn’t understand this process. It was messy, stressful, and very frustrating. One of the employees at the orphanage was angry feeling threatened by the Americans taking over and wanting his job. The children didn’t want their heads shaved because of the puss filled mounds were going to get cut open and they’d resist and get gashes from the razor blades. It was a scene I wish to never relive. I wished we hadn’t been assigned this task.
Kelsey and I continued the Tet Washing Game day after day for 16 days! (She is still playing)  With time it actually did become a game. Some kids would run to be the first one to get their heads washed and treated some would still cry and had to be dragged to the washing station. We sang kids songs and sometimes we changed the lyrics like “ I have decided to follow Jesus” to “ I am so excited to follow Jesus” during tantrum times.  Sometimes we quietly prayed over their heads, we massaged their heads, tickled their heads and sometimes we’d just shower them too (the case of Schnyder who loves “dlo” water).
Now, the daunting task I wish I was never assigned is the moment of the day I miss most.

Here is a picture of Mark’s head on February 15. This was already better after two treatments.

Here is a picture of Mark’s head on March 1- (17 days of treatment)


I am thankful Kelsey and I stuck it out. Even though we were yelled at (opposed), were hurting to see the pain from their heads and had to touch some of the gruesome gashes we were able to the hands and feet of Jesus for these kids.




It's Dangerous

I’ve had a couple conversations this month with some of the people here in Haiti about the religion practiced in Haiti called, Voudou. There are many different thoughts out there about this topic such as; it’s part of their culture, it’s just a style of music like Reggae and Kompa, or it’s part of the Catholic religion in Haiti and many more.
I won’t get into many details about the religion or practice but I will say this: There is ONLY one God and anything that is not of God is against God and what is against God is of Satan.

The drums in the night, the flags in certain places and the temples are constant reminders that there is much darkness in Haiti and that there is much work for the Kingdom of God. I know my God reigns and there is nothing impossible for Him. Spiritually, Haiti is dangerous but I am not afraid because I walk with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

My Daily Struggle in Haiti

Today one of my fears have come to a reality, my RA is flaring up. It’s Wednesday and I am lying in bed throbbing in so much pain, my feet and hands and feet are swollen and I just want to cry and I want Obe to come help me. It’s the Wednesday before my birthday and I am supposed to be preparing for a big bash on Friday for the kids and I am laying in bed.

The reason Haiti can be so challenging for me in contrast to many others is not the heat, the garbage or even lack of electricity or water for me it’s walking in Haiti. Walking on dirt roads with holes, walking on rocks and lack of a flat surface to walk in. Walking is my daily struggle here. I fear it. I feel it in every joint from my lower back to my toes. Before two years ago, I never thought about everything it takes to walk, run or even stand now (unfortunately) I am very aware of every move that even my toes make to walk, stand, and (I hardly ever dare to) run.

I also think it’s kind of humorous that God called me to come serve Haiti the same year I got diagnosed with Rheumatoid. Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disorder (over reactive immune system) that primarily attacks the synovial fluid in your joints. For me it is generalized where it attacks all my joints from my neck, to my spine to the rest of my joints. It’s been a painful transition from being physically active to sometimes being completely inactive (like today). It’s been painful physically, emotionally and mentally along with relationally.

I thought to myself many times, “How can I be useful to anyone when I sometimes need help getting dressed?”, “How can I be a good friend if many times I have to cancel activities because I can’t walk well?”, “How can I serve God if I can’t even get to the meeting to learn about what I can do?”. Yet, He called me, chose me to go serve the people of Haiti! Where I have to travel 10 hours to get to my destination, lug around luggage, leave the comforts of my tempra-peudic bed, and to go walk in this terrain. A place where the humidity, almost instantly, swells my feet and hands into ugly deformed tamales.


So in conclusion, I have learned that no I can’t plant the trees that will help the kids obtain fresh food, I can’t haul around dirt in wheel barrels or even carry a bucket of cement to help build the church building and no I can’t even carry babies for more than 15 minutes but I have learned I can love a child that is orphaned or abandoned with all my heart. I can administer vitamins to the kids every morning, teach them the importance of good hygiene and help administer first aid to their daily wounds. I can sit and read a book to them, color with them and solve puzzles with them. I can sit quietly and pray for them.


He has called me to be His hands and feet and to be the voice of the voiceless. Even though my hands and feet most days are hurt, I remember His hands and feet also hurt for me. I also remember Rheumatoid Arthritis could never take my voice away and I will use it to be His voice. So even though I struggle daily in Haiti my God is my strength to finish the work He has assigned me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Walking in Love, Humbly and Faith With God

Walking in Love, Humbly and Faith With God

In December when I started to pack and fundraise for these 32 days I was reading Exodus and came across the verse:
“If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.
Exodus 33:15

Instantly I knew that was going to be my prayer. I will not move one step without you if His presence is not wit me I am not going anywhere.

I’ve always been a “fan” if you can say of verses that have the word “walk” like:
 Walk with love:

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
(2 John 1:6 NIV)

Walk by faith:
For we walk by faith, not by sight.
 2 Corinthians 5:7

Walk humbly:
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8

In the past two years they became more than feel good verses or declarations of my faith but a real defiance towards a physical condition that threatens my ability to walk. I hear myself saying; “ I will WALK with love”, “ I will WALK by faith”, “I will WALK humbly with my God.” It was no different with this trip.

In the back of my mind as I prepared for this trip I had a little fear (a little lie) in the back of my mind, “What if I get a flare from my Rheumatoid? What will I do (without Obe)? How will I not draw negative attention to my time there? How will I recover? How much medicine should I take with me? What if my spinal stenosis or herniated discs or whatever cause my left leg to hurt and limit my abilities to be with the kids?”

 You see the enemy tried everything to stop me from coming. He raised many fears, doubts in me and even in my God. He brought people against me and tried to feed me lies about myself. I related a lot with Moses and now I look back on my timing in reading Genesis and Exodus and know God needed to tell me:

-          Yes, you may think you are not sufficient:

Exodus 3:10 But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”

-          Yes, you have a past that can try to come haunt you

Exodus 2:11 Many years later, when Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his own people, the Hebrews, and he saw how hard they were forced to work. During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews. 12 After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand.

-          Yes, you need others to help you:

Exodus 17:11 As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. 12 Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. 13 As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.

-          And yes, I Am is with you.

Exodus 3:14 God replied to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.
          This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.

Today I give thanks I WALK with Him and He WALKS with me.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

“I Don’t Have a Self”- Madam Yanik Joseph

During these past 17 days I have had the fortune of getting to know a woman I met exactly a year ago a little more. I have enjoyed hearing her laughter and also about her heart from her heart. I have had many conversations as we drink hot chocolate together or as we lock arms and walk together on a dirt road.

One of the things God put in my heart while looking forward to this time in Haiti was to be a friend to Madam Yanik. She is the pastor’s wife here at One Family and also the one who is called Mommy by 48 kids, the one that makes sure every meal is clean and prepared properly, the one who makes sure all guest rooms are clean and disinfected for teams coming in, the one who catches a couple hours of sleep here and there while she aids her husband in all she can with the church, school and orphanage. A very tired woman whom you may not see preaching or thriving for titles on stages but you see everyday, every hour and every minute of the day and night carrying a child, giving medicine to a child, nurturing a child or feeding a child. THIS is a woman I admire and I wanted to get to know more and be the friend God wanted me to be to her. One who listens, laughs and hopefully encourages her.

I’ve been studying the life of David while in Haiti and this past week I came across the story of Jonathon and David. The Bible says:

As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.”

Right away Jonathon loved David and committed himself, his friendship and even gave him his belongings. The belongings of a prince to a sheep shepherd?

 I thought of many friends the Lord has gifted me in my life. Many people came to mind, some whom I immediately felt a love for and some whom I grew to love and either way I have been blessed abundantly with friends who have turned into sisters. Sisters who love, encourage me and pray for me. Sisters I cry with and celebrate with. I have committed myself to love friends some easy to love and some a little challenging to understand but I have committed my love and friendship.

I know the blessings that come with friendships and I really hoped that I can be a blessing to Madam Yanik whom also is a pastor’s wife, whom also does all the behind the scenes things that no one sees, whom also only has one son and is “etranje” (foreigner) in her own people. Many of these things can lead us to a lonely place a place where we feel we “have no self”. This is a place where we continually serve our communities, our congregations or our husbands and end up feeling like “I don’t have a self.” I have felt that many times but in many instances friends and my time with them give me myself back to me again. This is a relationship where I don’t have to serve,  just enjoy and love and be free with.

I pray this time in Haiti is the foundation of great relationships with the children, some of the church members but mostly with Madam Yanik, whom I have “knit” my soul to her soul as I have had the privilege to do so with other women in my life.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

First day of second week, First day without Americans


There so many things I have touched, smelled, tasted, heard, and seen this past week such as;


Smelled: This I have to admit is probably the most challenged of the senses in Haiti. It’s very difficult to find a pleasant smell in Haiti. I was really looking forward for the jasmine tree in the compound to be in bloom this time as it was in August that gave me a great escape then. Here goes, I have definitely smelled every odor the human body can produce more than I care to admit. Moving on….


Tasted: I have tasted every way beans and rice can be possibly made, I have tasted goat in various ways but I have to say last night’s was the best, fruit juices made of “grenadia”, pineapple, and grapefruit (yummmm), fried okra which I enjoyed a little too much and the awesomeness of Coca Cola in a bottle.


Heard: I have heard cows, goats, hammers on a tin roof, men cheering the Super Bowl game, children singing every morning and every night, drums, car horns galore and worshipping like I will probably never hear at home.


Touched: I have felt the hugs and kisses of many children every day, dirt everywhere, and have held the hand of a woman as I walked (something very common in Guatemala and Haiti as I am sure many other countries).


Seen: I have seen generosity in many areas from different people. I witnessed a four year old share his half slice of bread with peanut butter shared with three of his little friends during recess. Also I admired a teenager save his granola bar we gave them one night for a friend, to gift it as a birthday present. I have seen two teams from CCC one caught vision and one built a goat farm. I have seen beautiful mountains make sunrises and sunsets much more stunning. I also have seen an eight year old girl get dropped off (abandoned)  at a Children’s Home because it is safer to let her go to an orphanage than to have her live in a tent city risking to get raped. She has never gone to school, she saw her mother walk away and not know if she’s coming back or who she is living with at the age of eight. I saw her walk into the girls’ room get a bunk assigned to her as she carried one tote with all her belongings.


I’ve also had great conversations with Madame Yanik, the pastor’s wife. We have talked about life, ministry, and she has shared many stories about the kids. Sometimes I have walked away laughing but many times I have walked away wanting to hide in a corner, weep and not know anymore of their hardships. The stories of these kids are hard, ugly and beyond what my mind can process. I have definitely proved that ignorance is bliss, I have only been here a week and sometimes wonder if it had been better to not know.


Please continue praying for my safety and my health. I write this as my knees, ankles and toes are throbbing through the swollenness from the hardship of walking in the rocks and dirt.






Friday, February 1, 2013

Heart & Soul


While in Haiti these 32 days I will be immersing my mind and body in learning life in Haiti. A life that is  hard work, full of struggles and challenges. In these past 3-4 days I have learned to live in much simpler conditions than in America. I’ve had to learn to do laundry in a bucket daily, learn to live without a dresser and limited storage, with the constant presence of dust and dirt (which in turn makes me sweep & dust a lot) and a bathroom sink that continually runs out of water and leaks. I have learned a few more words and songs in Creole. I have learned to start my days when the sun rises and go to sleep as the sun sets. I have learned to take advantage of every minute of electricity to charge electronics, FaceTime with my husband, check Facebook J, and sit in front of a fan and enjoy a fresh breeze on my sweaty face. I’m reading books about Haiti’s history, about children in Haiti and earthquake stories. So many things my mind and body have gained knowledge.


While in Haiti I will also be immersing heart & soul in my Lord, the love of my life. I will be doing a bible study daily, in the solitude of my room, about King David. Today was Day 1 of “David, seeking a heart like His” and the story starts in 1 Samuel 14, and it talks about King Saul’s son, Jonathon, who later becomes a great friend of David and this verse jumped out and hit me: 

And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” – 1 Samuel 14:7

Jonathon is going to battle with the Philistines and his armor- bearer pledges (and gives) his life to Jonathon to do as he wished! How does Jonathon respond? “Behold, we will cross over to the men” Pretty much “OK, we’re going to battle!” A few things touched my heart but I will share three:

1-      The surrendered heart of the arm-bearer; no will, no hesitations, no questions, nothing. “Do all that is in YOUR heart. Do as YOU wish.” How many times don’t I question, fear and fight against His will in my life? Countless. How many times should I answer as the arm-bearer but then choose to say no to God? Not only that, he gave his “heart & soul”! “I am with you HEART & SOUL!”  How do we get to that place?

2-      The arm-bearer’s response assured Jonathon, “he is all in with me”, ok let’s go to battle! The same way God is waiting for that surrendered heart and then and only then can He use us for all that is in His heart and in His wishes. 

3-      ‘The arm bearer followed behind Jonathon. His master led him into battle’ and then the battle was won.  How many times has the Lord let me know, “I lead, you follow”? How many times do I miss it? How many times does He have to tell me? I don’t know but I am thankful He doesn’t give up pursuing me and wanting me to be ALL His so He can do all that is in His heart with me.


I am so grateful that He goes before me.


From Haiti,