Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Saw What I Saw...

I Saw What I Saw is a beautiful song by Sara Groves that captures the feelings of amazement, hurt, and joy all evoked by the strength of these people...


 I saw what I saw and I can't forget it,  I heard what I heard and I can't go back, I know what I know and I can't deny it...

Something on the road 
Cut me to the soul...

Your pain has changed me,
Your dream inspires
Your face a memory
Your hope a fire
Your courage asks me what I'm afraid of
And what I know of love...

We've done what we've done 
and we can't erase it...
We are what we are 

and it's more than enough...
We have what we have 

but it's no substitution...

Your pain has changed me,
Your dream inspires
Your face a memory
Your hope a fire
Your courage asks me what I'm afraid of
And what I know of love... 

And what I know of God... 

 All photos were taken by a sweet friend, Shannon Kelley.  Thanks Shannon for capturing such beautiful images and for letting me share...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gleaning Wisdom

I have opened up the invitation to Brian to blog on here from time to time, but he hasn't taken me up on it yet.  But this morning he shared something on twitter/facebook that I just thought was worthy of sharing.  So, I'm doing it for him...  : )  

From Brian:
I met with a gentleman named Walt Baker a couple days ago.  Walt was called to full-time service in Haiti in 1958.  What an amazing guy and a wealth of knowledge.  In the few hours we were together he shared much advice that I enjoyed, but one piece of advice I particularly appreciated was for me to grasp the idea that my role is not to have a ministry that is succeeding (in the worlds eyes) but instead to just be obedient to whatever God asks of me. This is the exact advice I received from another  80+ yr old veteran of international missions a couple months ago.  These are two Godly men in the waning stages of their earthly life who have lived and learned much and they are now sharing their heart with younger guys so I think I'd be a fool to not listen. And as I've thought about their wise council I've realized it isn't just foreign missions work that we should apply that to - it's everything our lives.

God doesn't lose sleep over the success or failure (in earthly measurements) of our efforts - He is concerned about our obedience and the attitude of our heart in that obedience.

Lord, let our actions be obedient to all you ask of us today, and let our hearts be pure in those moments of obedient action.  Amen.

PS - Will you please pray for Walt's wife, Dottie, today? She is finishing up chemotherapy in the States now as they prepare to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary soon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


This world is full of drama.  It's everywhere and I get so weary.  Why is it necessary to beat each other up?   Why do we feel the need to have people on "our side?"  When did it become okay to be ugly to people and say hurtful things in the vein of being honest?  None of this sounds like scripture to me.  To be honest, none of this sounds like basic kindness to me.  Make no mistake, this is not meant to be "preachy", I have found myself  involved in this stuff too.  I don't know many people, or really anyone who hasn't found themselves in the middle of a he said/she said mess.  I'm finally understanding why there always seems to be some kind of drama. 

Drama is no more than a smokescreen used by the enemy to take our eye off God and to distort our view of each other.  

Taking the focus off God and placing it on chaotic situations around us causes us to lose sight of what should be the most important thing...  God's will and His call on each of our lives.  If we focus our time and attention on stuff like "why does he/she not like me" or what one person says about another, what time do we have to give to listening to God or hearing where He wants us to walk next.  Oh my gosh, how unbelievably lost we'll be.  I have been that person.  I'm a people-pleaser, I want everybody to like me.  I have spent unknown hours obsessing about what someone has said or is saying about me.  Sounds stupid, is stupid, but it's true.

When people talk and talk things get crazy, stories grow, people form opinions.  Many of those opinions are unhealthy and based on nothing close to truth.  This is what Satan uses to separate us from each other and the will of God.  What I have learned though, is that Satan can't use this stuff unless he's given a foot-hold.  We open ourselves up by being insecure or by being prideful and thinking "I've got this thing figured out."  Truth is, none of us have it figured out.  Once all this happens our view of each other has been changed.  We don't trust each other.  When we allow this to happen how can we possibly achieve what God has called us, as a people, to do in this world.  We can't, it's that simple.
Knowing these things, my prayer for me and my family is that we can keep it simple and keep our focus.  It's not easy, we are a family of messy and sinful people who are sucking air on this earth only because God decided we could.  We will try to love people like God and treat people the way Jesus did.  We Will Fail.  And when we fail, we know that God will place His hands under our arms, much like a Daddy with his toddler, and lift us back up to continue on.  It is my hope and desire that we as a family can keep it together enough to shine His light and bring HIS name more fame and more glory, not ours.  That's what it's all about.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

God Is So Great!

I guess another name for this post could be God's Answers to "My Moment."  Funny.  Here is how God answered my pity-party issues last night...

~First and foremost, athlete's foot does not cause death, which was kinda what it was looking like last night, poor guy.  We didn't have anything last night so I ended up squeezing a ton of hydro-cortisone cream on it and told him it would help.  Don't know if it actually did help or if the idea that it might help did the trick, but he finally got to sleep.  We treated it today with the real stuff and he should be good to go soon.  Interesting note, my brother called me and told me today that honey can be used as an anti-fungal.  "Next time put it on the affected area and stick footies on him."  (Thank you Randy, you have the oddest things locked in that mind!)  Looked it up on the internet and not only can it be used as an anti-fungal, it can also be used as an anti-bacterial and anti-viral.  Crazy!!  Oh, and guess what?  I have a jar of local raw honey in the cabinet.  Oh well, live and learn.

~As for getting my little girl home, God will bring her home in His timing.  Oh, that's a hard pill to swallow.  I want to tuck her into her bed at night, pray with her, and kiss her sweet head.  It's okay though, I know that God's got this.  Even if I'm crying again tomorrow, and odds are I will be.  Regardless of fixed elections, cholera, Baby Doc, or other hindrances, God's plan will be accomplished by His power alone.  It's how we've gotten this far and I take comfort in that.   

~When it comes to spending the night in the living room with 2 adults, 3 kids, 1 big hairy dog, and three rooms of furniture (4 counting the furniture already in the living room), it'll be crazy but short-lived and maybe fun.  Honestly, I think God stayed quiet on this one, just like when I was growing up and would whine about something that just wasn't that big a deal and my Mom would give me that "really?" look.  You know the look, head cocked to the side, one eyebrow up, hand on the hip.  Had I been able to visibly see God, I'm pretty sure He would have had the "really?" look.

~The whole Brian getting home and leaving again thing...  we'll deal with it.  It'll be difficult, and I'll miss my friend, but it's part of the deal.  Thinking we could be a little more realistic in the planning stages next time, but it'll be okay.  When I feel the moment coming when I know I'm going to fall apart, I have to trust.  Trust in God enough to know that He will bring me through the fire...    

"I love you, God— you make me strong.  God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight.  My God—the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout.  I sing to God, the Praise-Lofty, and find myself safe and saved."  
                                                                                                                   ~Psalm 18:1-3, The Message

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Having a Moment

This is going to be one of those purely selfish, basic brain-dump kind of posts.  If you don't want to be hit with the gratuitous verbal eruption please go to the top right hand corner and click that little "x."

That was your chance...

~I have a kid with athlete's foot.  I know how to treat it, but it's 11pm and the other kids are in the bed and I can't go get the "magic cream" until tomorrow.  I've never had athlete's foot, but based on his reaction to the news that I can't get the stuff tonight, athlete's foot is one step below having your foot amputated without anesthesia.  Either that or we have some drama...

~I have a sweet little girl that is living in Haiti that I want to bring home.  Found out that her paperwork is sitting at the Presidential Palace waiting to be signed by the "ahem" President and it just ain't happening!  Nothing is moving through the office right now.  This is really one of the last steps to her paperwork being handed off to the U.S. Embassy.  So a big fat "thank you" to Baby Doc for coming around and making an already jacked-up situation just that much more insane.

**Did I mention this might be selfish??

~Our house is in the middle of construction to make room for Merline and it's about to get crazy.  Don't get me wrong, it's a huge blessing to be able to do it , and it's been fairly unobtrusive to this point, but we are getting ready to put new flooring in every bedroom and the new part of the house at the same time.  Which means we all have to sleep in the living room with three bedrooms worth of furniture for a couple of days.  Yea for slumber parties...

~Brian's in Haiti right now and when he comes home he'll be here for a whopping 4 days before he heads out again.  This is getting to be a trend.  When are we going to have time to have some much needed conversation, make the kids feel loved, and prepare for him being gone another week?

Seriously, struggling to find my joy.  But I do feel better now...

Some of the Reasons We Love Haiti

 There are so many reasons we love Haiti.  It's hard to explain in words what it is that reaches in and grabs hold of your heart.  Here are a few of Brian's pictures that express the beauty of Haiti and her people...         

These eyes saw more in their lifetime than I could ever imagine...
These feet walked more miles than I could ever count...
Carrying water from the well at Ti Marche

At school in Petionville before the school had to close...  It was built into the side of a mountain and wasn't safe.
House in the Batay
Lake Azuei, on the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Here We Go!!

Brian left this morning heading back to Haiti taking a group of 22 to serve in Ti Marche.  So excited because no one has ever gone there and focused on them before.  Sweet, sweet people.

Molly being Molly
As for the chaos...  It has started.  Molly struggled last night knowing Daddy was leaving.  There were lots of hugs, kisses, and tears.  This morning as she got up and started getting ready for school her first question was "is Daddy already in Haiti?"  I told her he was on his way and she, very dramatically, rolled her eyes, sighed, and said "oookayy."  She then turned around and walked out and was fine for the rest of the morning.  It's kinda funny to me that Brian always wonders if Molly really even likes him.  She misses him so much when he's gone and gets so excited when he comes home.  I just don't think she can possibly understand what Daddy does over there.  And what is Haiti?  She just cannot wrap her 6 year old brain around it.  That's okay, there are moments I can't wrap my 35 year old brain around it.

I'm hoping that we'll be able to take her with us when we go get Merline, whenever that will be, so she can visualize Haiti and know the people we love so much.  It certainly helped Riley to go down and Emmie as well.  Both of them really seem to "get it" since going and spending some time.

Riley and Jean - total buds!
I will never forget what Riley said after he came home, "I understand why Daddy has to go.  I really just thought he was going down there and hanging out with friends."  Wow.  All we said to him just didn't matter until he went there himself.  Riley is our tender-hearted, intuitive kid.  He loves hard and hurts deep.  I fully expect him to be working in Haiti someday.  The picture to the left is of him and his friend, Jean.  Jean is actually a part of the Haitian National Police.  Major tough guy.  Every time I'm in Haiti Jean asks if we can talk to Riley so we call and the light on Jean's face is so cool.  Brian says Riley's face is the same.  I love that!  Jean looks tough, he is actually a mule of a man, but he is really just a big ole softie!

In the truck in PaP
When Emmie went to Haiti she was supposed to stay a week.  That ended up changing.  We had to change plane tickets and she stayed for 2 weeks and still didn't want to come home.  She said she missed those of us left here, but I'm really not sure.  I just recently found a music video, and I use that term loosely, that she and Merline made.  An entire Taylor swift song with moments of "Yo, who's at da do?"  It was quite obvious language wasn't really an issue for those two!  During those 2 weeks she spent a crazy amount of time with her sister and her Daddy in a truck driving around Haiti running errands.  Here it would have been 2-3 hours probably, but Haiti traffic is a different animal so time in the truck was a major chunk of time.  Emmie loved every smelly, bumpy minute of it!  Don't really get it, she gets car sick when we drive 8 minutes to the grocery store here.

Merline at the beach in Jacmel
What can I tell you about Merline?  She is the sweetest kid!  Since we have started the adoption process of Merline she has changed.  Merline was so needy just a year ago.  She was sometimes even hard to deal with because she was clingy and whiney when I loved on other kids at the orphanage.  She didn't ask for anything.  She just wanted to be held.  She's changed.  She now goes and gets other kids and puts them on my lap and then sits next to me, perfectly content.  She asks for new sandals and then when we take them she puts them on another girl who needs them, then she walks around in broken flip flops.  She loves Froot Loops, which is good since we have cereal night here at least once a week. : )  I can't wait to get her here and watch her personality come out!

Four kids, whether they're all here or not, are sometimes a handful.  The ones here are physically challenging and the one not here is emotionally challenging and they are all mentally challenging!  I'm just praying we can have fun in the midst of all the chaos.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Obedience Is Obedience

Obedience...  A constant struggle in my life.  I have struggled with letting God take over and allowing Him to lead.  I seem to have a tough time giving up control, or so I've been told.  I don't think there are many of us out there that can say they "give it up" well.  What I have noticed is that we do have a tendency to compare one persons call to another and apply "levels of difficulty" to obedience and I have been guilty.

When Brian started feeling the pull to ministry and more so to Haiti, I had this picture in my head of what missionaries looked like.  Oh my goodness, we were so not it!  Then I started reading this blog of a family living in Haiti.  They were so much like us, but they were doing something so big.  I could never do what they've done.      

What I have learned over the last couple of years is that all they're doing is being obedient.  For their family, living in Haiti is what obedience looks like.  For my family, Harvest Field and adopting Merline is what obedience looks like.  For other people obedience looks like feeding the hungry, literally or spiritually, in another country or in your city.  For others being obedient looks like homeschooling your children.

The point is that we are all called by God to action and that includes being obedient, whatever that looks like.

"Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me."  John 12:26

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Welcome Home... and Goodbye...

Brian got home Saturday night and I feel like I finally let out the breath I've been holding.  Don't know why, but no matter how uneventful it is here when Brian's gone, I still feel the load lighten when he comes home.  I think it may be that I'm just so glad that I can start saying "go ask your Dad" again.  : )  There's just something very calming about having him here.

We don't get to keep him long though.  He leaves again later this week to head back down.  At the end of this month we will have spent 4 days as a family.  So not enough.  It will be like this for the next few months.  It is not easy.  I am definitely amazed by single parents that don't get that release of having a mama or daddy come home.   

However, it is part of it and when God asked our family to do this we knew there would be sacrifice.  I just thought I would be better at it.  Silly.  It seems that no matter what I do, I seem to feel like I'm in survival mode.  I try to prepare but it doesn't work.  I wrestle with giving up the battle and just try to lean into God.  I know He will sustain me and He does.  But when kids get sick, issues arise, or Brian calls from Haiti and says "I need you to do me a favor" (which never seems to be easy) I find that I grab it all and try, again, to manage it.

I'm sure there are those that think, "you chose this life, deal with the consequences" but really that's not true.  We didn't necessarily "choose" this life.  We chose to say yes.  You don't get to pick and choose the parts you like about the call and those you don't.  You get it all.  The easy, the hard, and the stinky.  It's good, but it can drain you.  And really, is there a choice to not answer the call that God has placed on our life?  For us, the answer is no.  The alternative is something I would rather not consider.  And the blessings do far outweigh the struggles.  As my friend Angie says, regardless of what we have to walk through, "God still wins."  And that is the good news.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to be able to say "YES" to God, but if you see me and I look like I'm falling apart, please remind me to let go and quite trying to do God's job.  I'll probably think bad thoughts in my head about how you just don't get it (all said in a whiney voice) but that's just my sinful nature kicking in, I need to hear that God will sustain.

And to Brian, we are fine here...  focus on the steps God has ordered for your day.  Don't miss it just because it's hard.

Monday, January 17, 2011

So, So Strange... Such Is Haiti

So we heard last night that Jean-Claude Duvalier, otherwise known as Baby Doc, has returned to Haiti.  Nobody knows why exactly, but it is sure to muddy the waters in an already stressed political environment.  There are reports that other former presidents will be returning as well, specifically Jean-Bertrand Aristede.  Who knows if these reports are true.  Stranger things have happened.  If true, what is the purpose?  I just can't imagine that this could be to help Haiti and isn't just more of the same self-serving attitude of the past. 

For those who don't know, BabyDoc was president of Haiti for 15 years before fleeing Haiti in 1986 after major unrest.  He has lived in exile in France since that time.  He was a torturous leader.  There's tons of information out there so do some research about the former president/dictator.  Here's a recently written article from the AP that gives some info and some Haitian response... 

What's crazy to me is the excitement of so many in Haiti at the return of Baby Doc.  It seems as though they don't remember his horrific reign over them.  Of course so many in Haiti are too young to really remember.  About 50% are too young.  A quote from the above article, I think, really nailed the mindset of most Haitians.

"It's like you're in the middle of the sea, and you don't know how to swim.  Anything you see, you grab, to survive.  Even if you don't know what it is."

So sad, but I can kind of understand that rationale.  Haitians do not lack intelligence, they are desperate.

Selfishly, my mind heads straight to adoption and what all of this political unrest means for all adoptions, but especially for Presidential dispensations, as we have to have one to get our little girl home.  A Presidential dispensation is basically having the president of Haiti sign off on our adoption because we have biological children.  And we're not the only ones.  There are many kids, sweet girls we know well, wanting to be home with their families that are waiting for the same thing.  It's all crazy but we still have to have it.

Just be praying.  Haiti cannot be saved by man alone.

 "It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man."  Psalm 118:8  


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Why A Blog???

Who am I kidding??  I do not have the time for a blog.  I have nothing to say that anybody wants to hear.  I have read lots of blogs and I just don't think I have the "mad skills", as Riley would say, to be a blogger.  Do I really want to put it all out there?  No, I really don't.  I don't want anybody to know how "ick" we really are and that a lot of days the future is unclear and the enemy is beating the crap out of us!

These are questions and conversations I've had with myself off and on.  I don't know why, but it's been a battle that has gone on in me for quite a while.  Feeling like I need to do it, but just not sure why.  I struggled with my motives for doing it.  There was a while that I thought it was required to be "officially" on this path, because it really seems that if you do this kind of thing you must blog.  Maybe it's because I wanted to brag about how cool Brian is and how lucky I am to be married to such a stud...  Nope, I am reminded every night he's home with us that is not the case, as I trip over his massive tennis shoes on my way to bed.     

I've fought the battle and lost.  Over the last week I have felt pulled to the computer.  It has felt so good to be able to put thoughts in writing.  It's akin to pulling the plug out of my head and setting the thoughts free.  Otherwise they just bounce around and I have a hard time moving on.  Just a little bit of my quirkiness.  It's a great way to process.

It's also a good way for our family and friends to keep up with what's going on in our family.  We sometimes face difficult things and this will allow them to know how to pray or why we're hiding, which we do every once in a while.  There are also lots of little family blurbs that I would love to share.  Our kids are goofy and love the idea of showing other people, so I'm sure they'll wiggle their way in here at some point.

If anybody has any questions about Harvest Field feel free to ask.  I will try to answer and hopefully Brian will blog from time to time.  I would love for people to hear his heart. 

It won't always be heavy or deep.  I can't take that anymore than anybody else.  It will be an honest account of things we see, feel, and experience and how they effect us.  No apologies...

If you want to leave comments feel free, but please nothing hateful.  This blog is completely full of our personal thoughts, opinions and feelings, and if you don't agree that's okay.  Just don't get ugly, I have a mean streak...  Totally kidding.  

We welcome anyone that wants to walk this journey with us...


Friday, January 14, 2011

Leaving Is So Hard...

Brian is leaving Camatin, the orphanage where our little girl lives.  Actually, he's leaving right now, as I type.  I am as messed up as if I were leaving her.  This is crazy...  I left Haiti and my little girl, Merline, a week ago.  It was so hard to walk away from the sweet face that God has entrusted to me.  I cried, she cried, we prayed, we hugged, and tickled to try and lighten the mood.  It didn't work.  It was worth a shot though.  Anything is worth hearing that silly giggle.  I know God cared for Merline long before I even knew she existed and that He cares for her now while I'm waiting to bring her home, and I know that He will care for her after I'm gone.  But I want my hands on her.  Touching her face like I touch Molly's every morning.  I want to watch her lose herself in her favorite songs with her little ear buds in like I get to do with Emmie every day.  I want to teach her to love how our family gets together to watch Tennessee football and basketball like Riley.  Selfishly, I just want her here.

Merline's Family's House (where she was born)
I think of her Mama, Margila, who didn't have the chance to watch her little girl grow because she had a baby on the floor in her house and didn't have any medical care.  It's so hard to understand when a simple infection is so easily treated here.  I imagine that Merline, her baby girl, looks a lot like her.  I think of her Papi, Guadys, and the sacrifice he made many years ago to let her go so she could have food to eat and a place to sleep.  He's such a sweet man who lost so much in such a short time.  He lost his wife, Margila, a few days after she gave birth to their 7th child.  Within a month, give or take, he can't really remember, he lost that baby, a boy.  Three months later he lost another son, a few years older than Merline, he was sick and had a fever.  Not long after that he was given the option of giving his youngest child, Merline, to an orphanage the community church had just opened.  She was somewhere around 3 to 4 years old, the details are sketchy.  She was tiny for her age, bald due to malnutrition, and full of worms.  What I can't get out of my mind is that she was his.  She was the daughter of Guadys and Margila.  He had lost so much, so quickly.  He loved her so much, he wanted her to live, so he sent her to a place he trusted to care for her.  He let go.  He had to.  I cannot even imagine.

Merline's Family's house
Guadys didn't come around for a long time.  So long that most people thought she was a "true orphan."  Until we started the process to adopt.  Merline knew who he was and would speak to him a little, but that was about all.  When we spoke to him about adopting and if it was something he would consider his words were, "when I gave her to you (the orphanage) I trusted you and I trust you now.  If you say it is good, then it is what I want."  He asked if she would go to school, and I told him yes!  That was pretty much the conversation.  I was confused and hurt for Merline.  Don't get me wrong, I was off the wall elated that we could start the process, but how could he just say okay, that's his daughter.  My frustration was a sign of the world I have grown up in.  If you love someone you fight to keep them!  Haiti's different.  Sometimes, if you love someone, you let them go if it affords them an opportunity that you can't give them, regardless of how bad it hurts.  I realized, after I got over myself, that he loves her enough to let her go.  I honestly don't know if I would have the strength to do that.  Guadys had lost so much and I can't imagine he could take much more so when he gave her to the orphanage, he let her go in his mind.  But not in his heart.

Merline and her Papi, Guadys
Since we have started the adoption process he has started coming to visit Merline.  They have this neat relationship.  They joke with each other and you can see the love on his face.  You can also see that he's released her.  He can't take care of her, he can barely take care of himself and the other children (who are older now), even though he works so hard.  I'm amazed by the kind of love it takes to do what he's done.  I'm so glad that when Merline comes home she'll have had some sweet time with her Papi (she calls Guadys Papi and Brian is Daddy, that's her distinction) and she'll have sweet memories of him walking for miles to come and visit her.  I want her to come back and see him as often as we can afford to get her on a plane.  When he visits she always wants to give him something and if it's when I'm there she runs up and grabs food out of our stash, chips, peanut butter, crackers, chocolate, anything.  I just love that she wants to share with him.  Honestly, that's just her heart, she gives everything away.  I pray she never loses that.

Adoption from Haiti is hard.  The way we are adopting is hard.  Getting to see her and form a bond and having a foundation for when she comes home is a gift.  Leaving her is kind of like somebody reaching in and taking my heart out of my chest and then telling me to get on the truck and go home.  It stinks.  Don't misunderstand, any adoption is hard and all adoption should be God breathed.  It's not for everybody and I strongly, strongly believe that not every child in Haiti should be adopted.  Not even every child in an orphanage(my opinion).  But adoption is beautiful.  It reminds me that I am a child of God, He adopted me to be in His family, He chose me to be His and He released me from my fear.  That's what I want for all of my children.  Merline, Riley, Emersen, and Molly...

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba!  Father!"   ~ Romans 8:15

I didn't mean for this post to be this long...  It really started out as a struggle to process and deal with being away from my little girl.  Somehow it changed.  I'm grateful I have this outlet to share about Merline's family.  I cannot put into words how blessed Brian and I feel to be a part of the Augustave family and to have them be a part of ours. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rewind... Back to the Beginning

At this point in the life of this blog there are very, very few people reading.  Thank goodness...  takes the pressure off.  However, I realize that there may be a day when a few more people join in and may not know the road that has brought us to this point.  So, I'll back way up and try to keep it simple.  This is not a short story though, so grab a cup of coffee before you start.  I promise my other posts will not be this long.

Everything started with a trip that our home church took in December of 2003.  We (the church) had received a letter from Pastor Nicolas Louis Juste along with a picture of several children with big beautiful eyes.  The thing about this letter was that it was not only a plea for funds, but also an invitation to come and see the need.  I believe I heard that someone said "if we don't do something, I'm not sure we can call ourselves believers."  I may be paraphrasing, it was a long time ago.  Anyway, Brian was feeling the pull to go and I was excited for him and terrified at the same time.  We had just found out we were pregnant with our third child and these were totally unchartered waters for us.  But it was a week, that's all, just a week.  Ha, ha. 

So, Brian went to Haiti and came home completely changed and broken.  He measured everything we bought in bags of rice.  I remember so many conversations about how many families could eat and for how long for what we spent on a week's worth of groceries.  I had not experienced what he had and it was very hard to understand the change in him and the effect it was having on our family.  We struggled, but eventually I thought we had readjusted and, after a few months, were getting back to normal.  I was wrong.  One night several months later as I, in my very pregnant waddle, was going to bed after a long day with 2 toddlers, he informed me he thought we were supposed to adopt a baby from Haiti.  I'm pretty sure I said things that shouldn't be repeated.  Use your imagination and it probably doesn't come close  I thought he had just completely lost his mind.  He needed professional help.  I was about to pop with baby #3.  Nuts.

I should go ahead and mention that the way things usually work in our family is that God sets Brian on a path and Brian tells me about it and then I stomp along with him as God works on my heart.  Truth be told, I believe Brian is, and has always been, much more open to God's unconventional ways than I am.  I so desire to be different.  It's a work in progress.

As lots of you now know, Brian was right...  God was not finished with our family.  It took many years, lots of tears over how I was ever going to learn to do little black girl hair, and lots of prayer to get Brian and I on the same page at the same time.

While this drama was unfolding, and it was at times serious drama, Brian took his second trip to Haiti in December of 2005.  I was not ready for what happened when he came home.  He was becoming more and more uncomfortable in our little life we had carved out.  His discontent with his job was growing and the ache God had placed on his heart for Haiti was increasing.  He tried to tell me over and over again that God was calling him to something and if I'm being honest I'll just say I was having none of it.  I believe the words "put your big girl panties on and go to work" actually came out of my mouth... maybe more than once.  We had this life to sustain and maintain.  I can look back now and see, for us, one of the major lessons God wanted to teach us is that it is Him that sustains our family, not us, not the plans we make.  This lesson is one I have to relearn often.  We went back and forth for 2 years, Brian's feelings of being pulled to Haiti and my feelings of fear.

Finally, in December of 2007 I got on a plane to go and see what Brian had seen that had gotten us (in my mind) so off track.  Understand, I fought this too.  Why would God give me three young children to care for and then put me on a plane to a place I didn't know with people I didn't understand.  I know now, and really knew then, that's what He does.  God calls us all to the broken and out of our comfort zone.  It was a rough trip down that ended with Brian hugging me while I cried outside at Camatin and asked him to please take me back to Port au Prince and put me on the first plane home.  I was trying to stand in my own strength.  I was weak.

Brian refused to put me on a plane and during that week, God opened my eyes.  I finally saw what Brian had seen, a beautiful people that had joy in their faces despite their circumstances.  I saw how God had set my sweet husband apart for a journey down an unknown road.  I realized that God doesn't just call a man, but He calls a family.  I heard Brian speaking creole to Haitians as we walked.  Where did he learn that and when did he have time?  And why the heck didn't I notice??  All that was holding him back from following hard and fast after God was me.

When we returned home, we didn't return to life as usual.  Brian and I knew that full-time ministry to the people of Haiti was coming.  We didn't have a clue how, but started walking forward anyway.  Through 2008 Brian took 3 or 4 trips to Haiti, can't remember for sure.  Harvest Field Ministries was born in Brian's heart and mind.  Brian's desire to see people in Haiti come to know God and become self-sustaining was strong.  God put people in our path, while helping our friend, Pastor Menes from Haiti with some health issues, that would speed up the course we were on.  We were offered a start-up grant to turn Harvest Field Ministries into a real live 501c3 ministry.  Wow... God is big.  Brian quite his job of 12 years in October of 2008 and dove in head first.   I should probably mention that I couldn't breathe for a few weeks.  I have a very bad habit of questioning the One who tells the sun when to shine and the rains when to fall.  Silly, really...

In the past 2 years we have been blessed and we have been rocked.  We have walked through a massive earthquake, mourned the tremendous loss of a friend and leader of our partners in Haiti, Pastor Ronnigue, and started the adoption of our daughter, Merline.  It's sometimes been a blur.  There is no infrastructure in Haiti, the roads are rough, literally and figuratively.  You have to learn to roll with the flow, because you can plan all you want to, there will always be flat tires or broken axles to deal with or a need will pop up when you least expect it.  You're eyes have be open or you'll miss the chance to watch God move.  Haiti is hot and there's diesel in the air and it can literally beat you up, just look into the eyes of a 40 year old woman who looks at least 65.  Even with all of that, it's worth it.  It's worth it to have the chance to be a part, as tiny as we are, of God advancing His kingdom.

This life is not easy.  The expectations are high.  People expect us to have it "together" because we're in "ministry."  It doesn't work that way.  We fall, we're sinful, I whine...  I'm thankful that God is not finished with us yet.  I pray that we let go of the stress we have about people seeing the real Brian and Rachel, warts and all.  I pray that we allow God to mold us to be what He wants.  I pray that we allow our lives to be a demonstration of what God can accomplish in people who are selfish by nature, regardless of how bumpy the road may be.  I pray that we give until it hurts, and that I not complain about it.  I pray our children experience ministry and being obedient to God's call as a good thing and not just something that causes Daddy to be gone.  

Finally, I am thankful.  I am thankful that He promises us in his Word that "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  Thank you God, because if left to me it would surely be a mess.

I'm excited to see where the path God has set us on leads.  I would invite anybody out there reading this take this journey with us.       

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One Year Passess...

It's been one year, almost to the minute, that I heard about a huge earthquake in a tiny little country that has become so important.  I remember sitting at the computer and receiving a message from a friend I hadn't heard from in years that said: "Oh Rachel, I just saw on the news about the earthquake in Haiti.  I'm so sorry."  I was lost.  I had no clue.  I told Brian and we turned on the t.v. and saw the devastation and hurt.  Brian had just come returned from Haiti the night before.  We were looking forward to a few weeks of him being home, little did I know he would be back in the air headed to the Dominican Republic and then on to Haiti within about 36 hours after the quake hit.

All we knew were there were friends that are like our family there and we have no clue of their safety.  We have friends with children there.  There are beautiful, Godly people there who deserve more than to be shaken to their core.

There was not much sleep here while we tried for hours to call with no success.  Until very, very early the next morning when either we or one of our friends (not sure now, everything runs together) finally got through to the orphanage that our home church, White Stone, supports and the place Brian and a team were at not 24 hours earlier.  The orphanage had fallen and one little girl was lost in the collapse.  Atanie, the baby of the group.  I can't imagine what the other girls went through, losing a little sister.  I can't imagine what her Mama went through.  

Just a short while later Brian got through to a sweet, sweet friend, Pastor Moises.  He had the horrible news that Pastor Ronnigue, Brian's close friend and partner, and his wife had also lost their lives in the earthquake.  What in the world do we do with all of this...

In the past year we have learned a lot about God.  We have learned that He is still in control, even when we're not.  I learned that while my husband was in Port au Prince and I could not contact him.  The news reports did not help.  We have learned that He will never leave us...  we leave Him.  When we have those times that we feel like He's not there, it's because we have walked away.  We have learned that even when the future is unclear, He knows.  We have learned that He works all things for His good, even when it hurts like crazy and we just can't see it yet.

In the past year we have learned a lot about the people of Haiti.  We have learned that they are strong beyond belief.  We have watched as their faith has grown, not wavered in the wake of devastation.  We have learned that Haitian parents love their children beyond understanding.  Mamas and Daddies who covered their children with their bodies as buildings fell, Mamas and Daddies that love their children so much that they will give them up for adoption so they will have a chance at a life with opportunities.  I am constantly amazed.  We have learned that hope is something that cannot be crushed by falling buildings and the earth shaking.  We have learned that the Haitian people have such beautiful joy in the face of adversity, affliction, destruction, injustice, take your pick, they still have joy.

To say the past year has been hard is an understatement, but God has been patient.  He has taught us much through the struggles.  I am thankful that He has shown me His strength and power through some of His most beautiful people.  As difficult as our year has been it can't compare to the struggles the Haitian people faced in the last year and that they face with each day.  All I know is that God's mercies are new every morning and I pray that He pours that mercy over these people. 

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;  but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  ~Isaiah 40:29-31