Posts tagged #haiti

how quickly we forget

I woke up this morning burdened for Haiti. I sat and did my 750 words and the only thing that came out was how I missed it and how the orphans were calling out to me and how I felt absolutely helpless to do anything except pray for their freedom.

And then I forgot.

I mean, I forgot. I got so busy with my day-to-day life and making copies for my seniors and clicking buttons during students' presentations and grading papers before the deadline, Haiti was the furthest from my memory. I hate this. I hate the fact it's not weighty on my soul. I want to be so taken with the plight of the orphan that I can't go very long without letting my heart's knees bow before my Creator on these precious childrens' behalf. Something has to be done. The rains are coming. Shoot - the rains are already here, wiping out tent cities - and here I am. Safe. Protected. The only frustration being that I can't crawl into my warm bed and take a nap.

I'm spoiled.

It's no secret there are thousands - thousands - of orphans in Haiti. Even before the earthquake the crisis with orphans was staggering compared to other parts of the world. When the earthquake hit, so many people suddenly became passionate about these orphans.

"Where will they go?" "Can we adopt them?" "What steps need to be taken?"

Words like humanitarian parole became common in our vocabulary - replacing, just for a moment - our fascination with the latest reality TV show. Haiti was our reality - 0ur neighbor in distress. I wonder how many of these people once so passionate and focused on adopting are still intent on following through with this thought of expanding their family? The truth: Haitian adoptions have completely closed. The hope: those feeling the pull two months ago will continue to research. Continue to pray. Continue to believe the call to love the orphan isn't a suggestion but an expectation.

Whenever Russ & I talk about adoption, we always have Haiti in the background. Even though we know the country has closed adoptions now, we believe eventually it will open. Haiti, for the past ten years, settled itself deep in my bones. The people haunt me. The smells tease me. I know my story with Haiti is not complete, and the pull of adopting from this country is more than intense.

So this morning, when I woke up with this burden to pray for the orphan, I had this incredible, sinking feeling.

My child is waiting for me.

My child. It is my future waiting in the rain. It is my future dealing with loneliness and abandonment and hurt and anger and fear. My daughter is crying with no one to cuddle with her. My son is looking for someone to feed him.

My child is waiting for me.

This broke me. Suddenly, my prayers took on a different hue. I've always felt attached to Haiti. My prayers have never been distant - but this, this is different. This is my family. And as I sat there on my knees, praying and crying and seeking His face, I never thought I would forget the feeling.

But I did.

I'm praying dangerous prayers now. I don't want to forget those who the Lord is close to - and His scripture says He's close to the brokenhearted.  I want to be where He is, and if you've stayed up to date with what's gone on in Haiti, you know despite the devastation, God is certainly moving within the church there. It's beautiful. I want to be desperate for Him to save these orphans as if it were my own child. I pray He haunts our dreams and whispers names in our ears until we pay attention. For a couple weeks, He had us by the chin - forcing us to look. But He won't do that forever.

For me, I'm praying He will.

Posted on March 23, 2010 and filed under adoption.

thin places: red dirt faith

her elbows merging with my own on her way down, the rocks digging into my skin when we hit the ground, the look on her sister's face when she realized she was having another seizure - i remember it all. i was 17, fresh out of high school, and in the jungles of Haiti.

i fell with my friend as gracefully as i could and placed my hand underneath her head. her sister ran up the hill towards the camp. we were about half a mile away.

it was going to be awhile.

i close my eyes and say a prayer. two white girls, one seizing, in the middle of the road in the Haitian jungle...i needed some God-magic. i heard footsteps and glanced up to see a man placing his machete on the ground. i tried not to look at the blade inches from my own skin as he knelt down to look at me.

...what happens after that is where it gets blurry. i remember giving him instructions (in English). i remember him understanding me. i remember the team coming down the hill in a van and me telling the doctor what happened. i remember trying to find the man but failing - him completely disappearing in a village of about 100 people.

what i believe: God offered protection that day in the form of an angel. in a moment where my friend and i were in danger, Christ showed his power by crashing through language barriers and societal norms.

my faith is still tinged with the red dirt of Haiti.

Posted on February 10, 2010 .

kairos pt. 2 - ronel

About a week ago, I posted about Amos, an incredible little boy who needed to be reunited with his family. Since then, I have been introduced to countless precious faces reunited with their forever families. And then I heard of Ronel. I actually already knew who he was. Jamie Ivey posted a blog about him almost two years ago. Debra and her husband Eddie answered the call to step out in faith and adopt him. This brings us to the present. This brings us to his moment of kairos.

Ronel was supposed to be on the flight home with Amos. Check out this excerpt from a visiting missionary's blog:

Tara told me today that the boys were flying to the US. One was going to his adoptive family in Houston Texas, the other to a family in Dallas. When I got back from my days work, the boys were all dressed in their very best to meet their new families. They were so excited. I was so excited for them. It was hard to watch them go.

Later in the evening after dinner, the truck returned from the airport where 27 children were flying to meet their new parents. In the front seat of the truck was Ronel, the 6-7 year old that was staying in my room. I asked why he was still here and Tara told me it was because they needed one more paper for him. The other children got to go. She said she hoped they could get the needed paperwork tomorrow. I would never wish for you to see the disappointment on Ronel's face because it would crush your heart... it did mine. It was dark and the power was off. He went into our room, laid down on the bed, pulled the sheets up and sobbed. It was so sad. Tara came in and talked to him in Kreole... I'm not sure what she said but I know she was trying to comfort him. After a time she got up and left as I sat across the room. I could not leave him by himself. I went over and motioned for him to move over and I laid down next to him. The tears were pouring out of him. He was still in his new clothes as he fell asleep.

Earlier in this post, the man says,

I asked God tonight, how many times can my heart break... cause it's breaking all the time

You know, there's this worship song going around churches right now. It's been popular for about a year and a half. And as I read posts today about Ronel and as my twitter stream started filling up with pleas for the media to take notice, I couldn't help but think of the lyrics:

Heal my heart and make it clean, Open up my eyes to the things unseen... show me how to love like you - have loved me Break my heart for what breaks yours... everything I am for Your kingdom come as I go from earth unto eternity.

Sometimes, God asks us to do things that make us uncomfortable. Sometimes he asks us to step out in faith and believe and trust and reach our hands as far as we can to touch his beauty.

And sometimes, we see pictures of kids like Ronel. We hear his story. We experience his pain. And we know...

God is breaking our hearts for what breaks His.

I believe Ronel's situation is close to the heart of God.

But you know all about it— the contempt, the abuse. I dare to believe that the luckless will get lucky someday in you. You won’t let them down: orphans won’t be orphans forever - Psalm 10:14

So what can you do? There are many things. Do you twitter? Tweet the heck out of this story. Send tweets to @cnn and @andersoncooper and any other media outlets you know of. UNICEF has shown their mighty bureaucratic muscles and not many people are getting the full story of what's truly going on with adoptions and orphans. Let's give them the story. Call as well. Below are some people to contact by e-mail/phone/etc.

Raymond Joseph Haitian Ambassador to US embassy@haiti.org p 202-332-4090 f 202-745-7215

Kenneth H Merten US Ambassador to Haiti Tabarre 41, Blvd 15 Octobre Port-au-Prince, Haiti Haiti-earthquake@state.gov P 509 22 29 8000 F 509 22 29 8028

Hilary Clinton/Dept of State U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520 Main Switchboard: 202-647-4000

Also, blog about it. These people? I've never met them. But they are my brother and sister in Christ, and they need my help. When the earthquake first hit, I wrote about my missing pieces still waiting for me to return to Haiti - but I knew if I couldn't go, I could share through story. And so I am. First Amos - now Ronel.

Let's pray him home.

Posted on January 30, 2010 and filed under adoption, story.

world of contradictions pt.1

What I know about Haiti is the rain that produces rivers down the dirt roads and feeds into the huts of the locals. What I know about Haiti is the enigmatic pull of the beautiful wasteland of Jolli Gilbert. The bustling of school children, running down the sidewalk with matching pastel polo shirts and hand-me-down bottoms, captures my attention. Their laughter ricochets off the dilapidated tin-roof homes, and I smile. One of the children stops mid-stride and looks at the dirt. He begins exclaiming something in a language I don't understand, but the other children turn in haste and run back towards him. Looking closely, you can see what demanded their attention. A small butterfly sits quietly on a lone rock—the brilliant colors of its wings a stark contrast to the dirt surrounding it. I will find this is what Haiti is full of—contradictions.

I stare out the window of the rusty truck wondering about these children. How long does it take them to walk the five miles home from school? What do they worry about? Do they have a family? When was the last time they were hugged?

Many of my questions are answered the next day as the children speak to me in their stilted mix of English and Creole about what they do for fun.

One of the girls who is particularly fond of my light skin and blonde hair just sits in my laps and stares. Feeling the intensity of her rich eyes, I look down, smile and she beams with an uncertain familiarity.

Grabbing my face with both of her hands, she whispers, “beyotiful” and wraps me in the tightest hug I’ve received in awhile; our portrait a black and white image of purity and innocence.

I soon find that these children are the most genuine people I have ever met. In their stained T-shirts that have holes from too much wear, the kids find covering—not style. In friendships they possess a solidarity and community that far outweighs Americans’ tendency of keeping each other at arms’ length. When these precious children sing, they sing with the joy of being alive.

They are just that—alive.

Haiti, in all its tragedy and deconstruction, is where I was transformed. When asked to pinpoint a significant turning point in my life, I always reference Haiti. It is here that I believe I lost my innocence. However, it is in this country with rich heritage and beautiful strength that I found myself.

What I remember about Haiti is not the men walking down the street with machine guns, but the women walking with their children—bright smiles echoing off the darkness around them. What I remember about Haiti is not the marketplace full of beggars, but the marketplace full of bright possibilities in the shape of tropical fruit, paintings and jewelry crafted with the hope of a new beginning.

Haiti is more than just the 30-second update the press feeds us. It is a land that has permeated my senses. I still smell the morning dew glistening on the banana leaves. I still feel the coarseness of rocks digging into my skin as I knelt down to talk to the children. I still taste the saltiness of goatskin, a delicacy given for our company. I still hear the sweet sounds of worship coming from the lips of believers who truly define faith in action. But most of all, I still see the eyes of those I came in contact with. Tired. Broken. Waiting. Hoping.

A world of contradictions bottled up into a tiny gaze.

Posted on January 28, 2010 .

standing on hope's shoulders

Much could be said of this generation. As a teacher, I hear a lot of judgments and assumptions about what teenagers are thinking and what makes them tick... but all they need is purpose.

Which is a huge part of me being the sponsor for Club ICU at my school. We've supported Invisible Children for four years. And while we are technically a "club" from the beginning we have believed that to be a misnomer. Justice has no elite membership. While our focus is n. Uganda, we understand social justice spans far wider than a tiny speck on the globe. Issues surface in our own backyard. Earthquakes bend the ground and waves crash against shaken poles. We never wanted to be the group who focused so much on one area we ignored all the rest.

So, when the earthquake hit Haiti, my students immediately began to question what we could do to help. We realized we had about 350 dollars in cash from fundraising the previous semester and it was just sitting in our cabinet - waiting for the next round of Schools for Schools. The students began to wonder - why wait? Why not give what we have now - all of it. So they did. And it wasn't very hard for them to decide to send it to Real Hope for Haiti and Heartline. I had been telling them stories from the Livesay blog and RHFH and they wanted to help. They had faces, names and situations. The perfect storm in giving.

Here's what they said:

After seeing the pain and suffering brought forth by the recent earthquake, giving to Real Hope for Haiti and Heartline was an easy decision. We as Americans are so privileged in every day life. Our ability to not only give but give generously to those in need is incredible.  It breaks my heart to see the Haitian people in this chaotic time, especially now that I'm a new aunt. The preciousness of a child is so much more personal to me, the well-being of a Haitian child is just as important as any other. Anything that is needed to help the people of Haiti should be done.

- Alex Leininger, 12th grader

A shockwave can be more than physical. It can be emotionally devastating, just like an earthquake destroys physical things. I remember hearing about the earthquake. My heart breaking I fell on to the couch, mouth agape as I watched the devastation and death. I wanted to help. Thankfully, our ICU Club came across Real Hope for Haiti. Not long after hearing about them I heard about Amos Ivey, Aaron Ivey's son. He is still in Haiti. What broke my heart even more, what really opened my eyes to the devastation the quake had on the kids was when Amos asked Aaron, "papa you comin'?" So many of the children in Haiti are orphans now. They have nothing and need everything. Real Hope for Haiti gives them the most important and valuable thing: Hope. Hope for a new life, hope for love. My heart goes out to all those who have experienced loss. I pray God's love and grace floods your life. Job lost all he had. He suffered great loss, just like those in Haiti, but in the end was blessed greatly. I am incredibly glad to be helping in some way. I am hoping and praying these kids have a brighter tomorrow. "I have told you these things that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

- Dane Kemp, 12th grader

**Note: Amos is actually on American soil. Dane wrote this just a few hours before Aaron and Jamie Ivey found out Amos was on his way to Florida. When I texted Dane to let him know, he replied: "Powerful emotions Aaron must be feeling. Only a daddy could feel that way. Papa found a way. Both did. Amos should be happy."

Much could be said of this generation. But I know what's true: this generation is not relying on standing on the shoulders of those who came before them. They understand change is not only desired, it's a necessity. They realize that in order to make a difference, they are going to have to blaze new trails and give generously. Risk will be involved. Adventure is a priority. Most believe this generation would rather sit in front of Mtv and daydream about starring in a reality show, but I know that most of these kids are discontent with the amount of excess they see in society and entertainment. Call it simple living, call it revolutionary thinking...call it what you will.

I know it's just them standing on hope's shoulders, her justice flag waving in the breeze. They will not be content with living normal lives. Not these guys. You watch. It's addicting, this whole "changing the world" thing. Once you get hope in your veins, you can't get her out.

Posted on January 22, 2010 .