Often I reflect on my time in Haiti and think, man I want to write a book. I wrestle with writing a book when I know (or pray) my story is far from over. I have had a long journey over the last four years and have met some amazing people who I have written about. Most often I am reminded of them by Facebook’s stellar news feed. I often reflect on the people I have met here in Haiti when driving around; landmarks or restaurants reminding me of days gone by.
I know I have written about many of these people during my time over the years. I think of the difficult times I had, the days spent in prayer and uncertainty. Uncomfortable, hard days. Days when I now can look back and see the Lord at work. Days that were so overwhelming while I was in them, better days seemed far far away. Better days come and go, and I am grateful to know He has walked me through it all.
Sometimes I think back at those days and I can help but think, “How selfish am I.” How selfish am I to think my days were hard compared to those outside the gates of the various places I was so fortunate to lay my head down on. How selfish am I compared to the millions, starving, beaten, abused, broken, fighting their battle. Never have I gone to bed hungry or cold. Never have I gone to bed thinking, “God are you still there?”
The last four years has grown my faith in unmeasurable ways. Hardships I have experienced seem to be the thorn’s on the stem of flowers. If it weren’t for my thorns, I never would have come to the roses.
Facebook as I mentioned is a great reminder of the roses I have met over my time in Haiti. Today I was reminded of one woman in particular. I was staying temporarily at a guest house after what I thought was a devastating situation. I was reminded of God’s grace, how “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) I am not sure I will ever lose the childish amazement when the Lord reveals himself in these situations. Here I am years later and still blessed, still seeing God use situations for His glory.
Over my time at the guest house, I met Stephanie Bowman. Stephanie was serving on a team with her two daughters. In a time I was really missing my own mom, I found myself drawn to Stephanie. She opened up to me and told me her story; addicted to drugs, abused, pregnant, but in the end, she has conquered. Like myself, Stephanie’s story is far from over, but I am count myself blessed to meet such a woman. Stephanie’s story is still going strong. She has taken her difficult situation and has turned it around to help others. She gives back to those who are not yet able to help themselves. Completely aware of what life can be like for women, Stephanie had a dream, a dream to impact the lives of others.
Stephanie started One Heart for Women and Children in Orlando, Florida. An organization that impacts about 1,000 people a month. People who are struggling, suffering and hurting. I think of how I show the love of the Lord to others and again I think, “How selfish am I?” How selfish am I when things get hard. My life is a dream compared to some. It does not fall on me how very blessed I am. My job, my family, my friends, my home-all filled with joy. I have people to turn to who have my best interest and happiness at heart; people who shower me with gifts and love and fill my heart with joy daily.
I am ever grateful for the reminder of people like Stephanie who are doing such big things for humanity and for His Kingdom and His glory. Stephanie, who doesn’t know it, has helped me to remember how blessed I am by her efforts to bless others. She is a continual reminder of how to be a disciple of the Lord, a true servant. Stephanie, who selflessly gives her love to strangers. Stephanie who was a rose to me when I was stuck in a thorn bush, who continues to be a rose and an inspiration to me.
I am grateful for the trials and welcome the difficult days, because it is from the bushes of thorns that we enjoy the beauty of roses.
and if you happen to be in the Orlando area, be sure to drop in and lend a hand.
I have two very different blogs that could fit under this title today. I am choosing the one that brings me joy, not the hardship that has crept its way into my thoughts yet again. That one I want to tuck away, tuck away and walk away from if I could, but I know I need to face that demon-and I will, but for this weekend I am tucking it away and choosing joy.
So here is my joy-FULL “Help.” post.
Here at Quisqueya I am teaching Sign Language 1 and Senior Transitions. My ASL 1 class has 11 students in it-all seniors. My Transitions class has 19 students in all of the seniors here at QCS. It’s no secret I love my classes, but even more than that, I love the opportunity to teach my student….and learn from them. As I walk this journey with the Lord, as I learn how to be a follower, I am blessed to count them as part of this journey.
In ASL class one of our new vocab words this week is “Help.” We were reviewing our words, meaning I already taught them the signs the day before. With my back to them, I asked “OK guys, whats the sign for ‘help’?” Turning to look at their answers, I had an itch, I was scratching both sides of my head in a bit of vigurous motion. One of those killing two birds with one stone moments, scratching my head and fluffing my curls.
Well, when I looked at my students, they were ALL, everyone of them doing the same thing-scratching the sides of their head.
I busted out laughing, “Guys, WHAT are you doing?”
“The sign for ‘Help’ Miss, this is what you are doing.”
Apparently they had forgotten what they learned the day before, the correct sign for “Help.”
Oh the joys of teaching.
Our theme here at Quisqueya is “Following Jesus” We have talked a lot about who we are following, how to be followers; disciples. For me, I often think of how I am teaching as I am learning. As teachers we are leaders, we are examples. Our students, our own children, are all watching us. Watching our example. And if we aren’t careful, they might follow the wrong example.
I want to “help” my students be followers, but that comes with teaching them the right signs, by being the right example.
(Be sure to smile at some one today, it might be exactly what they need) 🙂
A message from RG founder on Global Giving Project:
As this year has progressed, REBUILD globally has received a remarkable opportunity for growth, yet was also victim to a crime that threatened the livelihoods of our artisans, street children and apprentices.
Last month our artisan workshop was broken into and vandalized while an international corporation threatened the insurance of our donated modular buildings on site. After an inspiring commitment to justice enacted by the REBUILD artisans and community, local authorities signed to back the buildings on site allowing the artisans to continue their gratifying work.
Before this attack on the REBUILD shop, the United Nations awarded us with a grant that allows us to have the monetary capacity to employ NINETEEN more artisan women! This is a great opportunity to further our reach and help mend the community of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. One of the most exciting aspects of this grant is that we are employing the mothers of the boys in our street child program. What we have learned in Haiti, is that most of the children living on the streets are not orphaned, it is that their (mostly single moms) do not have jobs and therefore can not take care of them. Therefore, it is our mandate to employ these women and get these children off the streets for good!
YOU can help us with this mission! The vandalism of our workshop last month put us a few steps behind as we intended to hire more women, but your commitment to help keep artisan women employed can change lives forever. We are still in need of replacement shoe making tools and equipment, as well as fuel for our generator.
With the help of our devoted patrons and supporters like you, we have come so far with our work and mission. We are excited to welcome our new cohort of artisans and look forward to increasing our productivity and community outreach.
This Wednesday, June 13, Global Giving will match 40% of all donations given to REBUILD Globally. This means that your $50.00 donation will automatically become $70.00! At a time where our organization has overcome continuous hurdles and obstacles, your support will enable us to continue building our physical capacity and work environment.
We encourage you to follow our facebook to stay up to date on all RG happenings and watch our videos on youtube! Our NEW online sandal shop is up and running, visit http://www.rebuildglobally.org/products-page/ to order your pair of REBUILDERs!
The REBUILD Team
Today’s the day!!! My birthday is one of my favorite days all year!!! This year I am asking all my friends and family to donate to a worthy cause of an artisan organization in Haiti that needs a new perimeter security wall as a result of the small earthquake about a week ago. It has been damaged for a while now and is currently holding, but won’t be for long.
If you would like to celebrate my birthday with me please check out REBUILD Globally and donate to help rebuild the wall! In the notes/memo section please specify that you would like your donation to go toward the wall. We are calling them ‘Birthday Bricks’!
ALSO-be sure to check out the sandals made from recycled tires cleaned up off the streets of Haiti! The leather straps are also recycled leather from your old jacket or ‘hot pants’ that I am SURE most of you owned at one point in your life!!! I appreciate all the love and birthday wishes, thank you for reading and please check out my birthday cause!
For those of you who know me well know I like to celebrate my birthday ALL month long-you can thank my mother for always making sure I felt special on and around my day. My birthday is right around the corner, on the 28th of March and I am super excited as usual!!
I will be spending my birthday this year again away from my friends and family in the US. I will be in Haiti working as we will have TWO teams on the ground. I plan to celebrate over Sushi with some close friends as I look forward to the coming year!!!
Some friends and family have asked me what I want for my birthday this year, money toward a plane ticket home or new clothes, jewelry, books-the typical birthday stuff. Last week one of my best friends from college came to visit me in Haiti. It was great to have her here with me, sort of an early birthday present. While Morgan was here so many crazy things happened it was almost surreal…including a 4.6 earthquake.
It didn’t appear there was damage anywhere, at least not that I heard; it was all over twitter and face book in seconds. There was an eerie calm that came over the neighborhood; the usual tune of roosters, dogs and birds was replaced with a still silence. The next morning Morgan and I visited REBUILD globally, an organization started by a good friend of mine here in Haiti; Julie Colombino and our friend Sandra are the two amazing women running it.
When we walked in their red metal door Sandra immediately pointed out the perimeter wall that was damaged by the recent earthquake. The wall is leaning on their water tanks and appears to be holding; however, when it does fall REBUILD Globally will face a great security risk. Their equipment, supplies and entire stock is behind that wall. For a small (but growing) artisan organization in Haiti, they don’t have reserve funds saved up to replace the wall. It runs the length of the property and will not all have to be replaced. The cost for the wall and labor is 3,000USD.
This year for my birthday I am asking friends, family, past team members or regular blog readers to help out someone in need. If you personally are unable to help, please help by passing this on to friends, family or coworkers! It may not be a direct mouth you are feeding or roof to a new home you are putting over a Haitians head; but it is a place of work-of betterment and empowerment. For those who work at REBUILD, working in a safe environment brings them a steady income, it does directly feed the mouths of their families, REBUILD allowed them to help put their OWN roof over their heads.
If you feel able to help out REBUILD in their effort to keep their facility secure please go to their website and donate through the button on the home page of their website. All donations for this project will go directly rebuilding the REBUILD Globally wall!