Although our move to Christianville and the first few days there were hectic, things are going very well for Sue and the kids. I noticed a drastic change in behavior and the overall mood of the household after moving. Where they were living in Bon Repos (a city just outside of Port-au-Prince) was dirty, compact, and dangerous. The kids were contained in a very small property and it majorly affected their behavior. Their new home is in the country on Christianville’s beautiful property. The first time I visited the campus I felt as if I was at an oasis; safe, clean and free. Although their house is small, the kids have so much space to run and play outside. Eventually, they will be building Sue a custom Children’s home and there’s another ministry who is going to install a playground for the kids. THank you for praying for us as we moved and as they are transitioning to their new life and developing a new routine. I’m so thankful that things are going well and that everyone seems really content living there, especially Sue.
I’ve never experienced a more bittersweet goodbye. I’ve been talking about leaving for weeks now, but the reality of it didn’t fully come until yesterday morning. I spent most of the morning crying as I thought about facing the end. I was devastated. I started crying really hard when I was alone with Jackson and Noah on the front porch. When three year old Francesca noticed I was crying, she came running toward me and snuggled onto my lap. She tightly wrapped her arms around me and patted my back until she sure I was finished. She smiled at me as she wiped the tears off my face and repeatedly kissed my face. I was quickly reminded of God’s love for me, and comforted knowing that He had used a sweet little girl take care of me. Oh, how I will miss her.
I sobbed as I rocked both of the babies to bed last night. My heart was completely crushed as I realized that it was my last time putting them to bed. I have never felt so attached to any children or babies as I am to Jackson and Noah and it was evident that they were equally attached to me. I feel so privileged that I could be their mommy for a short while. I tucked each of the girls into bed and received hundreds of hugs and kisses. Then I boys asked me to have one last sleepover with them on the porch.
I left early this morning, before any of the kids were awake. I held the babies one last time, left a note and some treats on the table for the kids, and gave Sue a hug goodbye. My ride to the airport was a blur as I struggled to keep my composure. I managed to hold back the tears until I got through security and was waiting in the terminal. A Haitian family sat in the row across from me with their baby boy and I immediately started crying. (They probably thought I was crazy, little did they know I was considering asking if I could hold their baby for a few minutes to help ease the pain). The rest of my day has been an emotional roller coaster. But God is constantly comforting me. I know He is in control and that although this season is over, He is leading me into a new one.
I will miss so many things about the babies, the kids, Sue, and life in Haiti. I am so thankful that I was able to spend the past few months there. I will miss Claudeson’s animated stories and Peter’s energy. I will miss Johnnies many facial expressions and Diana’s unique dance moves. I will miss Baby Joshua’s giggle and his cute little jog. I will miss watching Son-Son run at full speed and patrol everyone. I will miss Scheelanda’s sense of humor and Bebej’s beautiful smile. I will miss Betchina’s many hugs and her soft voice. I will miss Samantha’s singing and Jennifer’s teasing. I will miss Erline’s playfulness and Mislanda’s lovable spirit. I will miss Sue’s wisdom and her many stories. I will miss the beautiful landscape of Haiti and the extraordinary people. And yes, at times I will even miss eating rice and beans.
This summer wasn’t easy. In fact, it was one of the hardest and most stressful experiences I’ve ever had, but it was also one of the most rewarding experiences. It was obvious that God wanted me to go to Haiti to help Sue at her orphanage. Even though I was discouraged by some people, including my Missions advisor, I went knowing that God was calling me to go. I encourage you to follow God wherever He is leading you. I’m not saying that everyone should work in a third world country or take care of kids for a summer. But I am saying that God calls all of us to leave our comfort zones and share God’s love and grace with others. We are to I can testify that it’s in those places that He is able to transform us and that it’s in those seasons that we are rewarded and blessed. I will forever be changed by my time in Haiti and I will always
My feelings are complicated. My thoughts are scattered. My heart is full.
I am EXHAUSTED.
I am THANKFUL.
I am INSPIRED.
I am EMOTIONAL.
I am CHALLENGED.
I am AFRAID.
I am REFLECTIVE.
I am HOPEFUL.
I think this will be my last blog post for a while. I titled my blog ‘Wandering with a Purpose’ because that’s the best way to describe what I know of my future. I want to foliow God wherever He is leading me, obedient to His will. I don’t need to know the master plan for my life, I want to take it one day at a time. I want to surrender my own plans, my independence, my selfishness, and live for Him. It is a constant struggle. I have always known that God wants me to be a missionary. But I’ve never had any idea of where He wants me to go or what I will do there. I am slowly learning to trust Him. This used to make anxious about the future and inadequate to succeed without a plan of some sort. People are always asking me what I plan to do in Missions.Someone actually just told me today, “you have to have a plan!”. I told him that my plan for right now is to trust God to show me where to go next. Which is why I often feel like I’m wandering. I’m wandering in the direction that God is leading. And my purpose in wandering is to glorify God by making His love known to others. Knowing that God is in control of my future and that He will give me directions when I need to know them gives me an incredible sense of peace. So until I embark on another adventure or feel inspired to write again, my blogging is going to put on hold.
“The mind of man plans his way. But the Lord directs his steps.: Prov. 16:9
Thank you for all of your prayers and encouragement. My time in Haiti has reminded me how effective prayer is, and it’s ability to sustain us. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to be in Haiti and so thankful for your prayers, I couldn’t have managed without them.
I never thought I’d spend my 21st birthday in Haiti with twin baby boys and 16 kids, but I couldn’t have imagined anything better. After breakfast, Jennifer had some of the little kids line up and individually sing ‘Happy Birthday’ and hand me flowers. It was the sweetest surprise. Faboula made one of my favorite dishes for lunch, a corn mash with bean sauce and she made the best fruit granitas for desert. Sue wore my favorite outfit that she owns and throughout the day I was constantly receiving cards and gifts. When the boys were taking their nap, I had a phone call from my sister. After the babies went to bed, Betchina and Scheelanda sat on my lap as we all watched the movie Matilda. After the movie Jennifer asked me if I had a good birthday, and I told her it was one of the best. Then the boys asked me if I would sleep on the porch with them and they even helped me carry my mattress out. Being in Haiti has shown me that it’s the little things that make life special, and that’s one of the reasons why I love it here so much.
Every time one of the kids calls my name or runs up to give me a hug, my heart melts. I can’t believe that in just one week I will be back home in the United States and they won’t be a part of my life anymore. There are so many things that I am going to miss here. But I also have a sense of closure, knowing that it’s time to leave. I think that preparing to leave is one of the most bittersweet experiences I have ever gone through. Please pray for my transition home.
Last Saturday we moved to Christianville. The move was a lot more of a challenge than we expected and the transition of living here hasn’t been easy either. A lot of things didn’t go as planned and we were without power for our first few days.
But everyday gets better, God is taking care of our needs and everyone is getting into more of a routine. I was so anxious the first few days we were here, but He has given me an indescribable peace about being here. Our home is much smaller Pray for everyone as they adjust to living here and develop a routine. Pray for Sue as she organizes everything and everyone and manages their new life here.
(Wrote this on Friday night/Sat. am but haven’t had power until now to post it until now)
In my last post I explained the unfortunate news about Mislanda and Bebej. I want to thank all of you who were praying for them because we are so thankful to still have the girls here! Their mother came to get them last Sunday. The girls were ready and waiting as they had their bags packed, their hair done, and their nice church dresses on. They stayed home from church in case their mother came in the morning. Just before their mother arrived, Mislanda told Sue that she didn’t want to go with her mother. Sue was instantly in tears as she realized the challenges this created. When their mother arrived both the girls were hesitant to greet her. She immediately went to Sue and told her that she had changed her mind and would not be taking the girls with her. As awful as this was, it was not a surprise to Sue. She said that the mother has been very indecisive, constantly changing her plans for her daughters. After having a heated conversation with Sue, she casually said good-bye to the girls and left. She seemed emotionless but I know that deep down she had to be hurting as she left her daughters here. I can’t believe that a mother would treat her daughters this way, playing with their hearts as she controls their futures. Whether she will allow them to be adopted or will later want them back, we don’t know. As tragic and devastating as that morning was, I know that the girls are better off here. I had absolutely no peace about them going with their mother and living in the tent city. I believe that God is protecting them by keeping them here. I am also thankful to have more time with them, they are such sweet and precious girls. Pray for Sue as she pursues what’s best for these girls. Please pray for the girls as they continue to trust God and His will for their lives.
The language barrier still remains one of my biggest frustrations. Although I am learning some Creole, it’s not nearly enough to understand what the kids and the workers are saying to each other. This creates distance and a level of tension between the Americans and the Haitians. Pray that we would have grace and patience for each other as we work together to help Sue by loving and caring for the children. Pray that God would continue to help me understand and learn more of the language.
Yesterday our generator breathed it’s last and final breath. This means when the city power is off, we don’t have any electricity (the city power is randomly available, usually coming on once a day for a few hours). Three mechanics were here all day yesterday and almost all day today trying to fix it. During the process of fixing it there was some sort of shortage and now we are unable to get city power through our lines which means we are now completely out of electricity. The past two nights were interesting as we bathed the kids and put them to bed with flashlights and sleep without fans to keep us cool. We are on our last hour of battery for the laptop and our cell phones are almost dead. Without electricity we are unable to pump water so we have had to buy filtered water and carry water for washing and bathing from down the street. Pray for us as we live without electricity and pray that we would be able to move to our new home at Christianville VERY soon!
Speaking of Christianville… John and Sue took Hannah, Josh, and I there on Thursday. It was hard to leave the twins for a whole day but it was a much needed day away from the house. We drove through downtown Port-au-Prince so that we could see the remains of the Capital building and the Cathedral that were both destroyed by the earthquake. Our drive to Christianville was an adventure. John drove us in his only working truck that day, the large flat-bed truck that took us to church a few weeks ago that I described in a previous post. This meant that Josh, Hannah, and I would be standing in the back of the truck basking in the sun. At least we had a great view of the land as we were covered in dust and exhaust fumes. It felt like we were either riding on a float in a parade or being taken to prison! We drove west toward Leogane to get to Christianville. Christianville is hidden in what seemed like an oasis off the highway. It’s near the coast, in the country, and the air is fresh. There was lots of grass and beautiful trees. We went there so Sue and John could meet a man who’s interested in building jungle gyms for the two orphanages. Everything they will have their is almost the opposite of what they have now. They house they’re moving into will be a temporary situation until their new house is built. The temporary house is small but doable. It is in need of a few minor repairs and as soon as they’re finished, we will be ready to move. I am so excited for Sue and the kids to have a new place to live and so thankful for the ways God continues to take care of them.
I’ve always struggled putting my thoughts and feelings into words, but explaining my trip to the market with Louise is especially difficult. She goes every week to buy our meat, beans, vegetables, noodles, and other various ingredients for our cook, Ma-mi. We left right after breakfast and took a tap-tap to get there. We arrived at a busy corner in Bon Repos where the streets were lined with the motorcycle gangs, students heading to school, and vendors already set up for the day. I couldn’t believe the amount of activity so early in the morning. Sometimes I wonder if Haitians ever sleep! The market is located under some sort of old barn or arena next to a swampy river that’s home to stray pigs and contains more sewage and trash than water. As you can imagine, the market smelled just like the river. I’m not even going to attempt to describe the way the butchers handle and sell meat. All I’m going to say is that my trip to the market made me extremely grateful for the grocery stores and health codes in the US! I voluntarily asked if I could go with Louise to the market, Sue was worried that I wouldn’t want to eat any of the meat anymore after going. I wasn’t worried about that. I wanted to see how some Haitians make a living and how so many Haitians buy their groceries. I wanted to see more into their daily life. I spend every day at the orphanage and so I take every opportunity to experience Haitian life outside our walls. Sometimes that means sitting through a five hour church service or eating chicken bones with the kids at lunch. Sometimes it means squishing into a tap-tap and sometimes it’s gagging at the stench and sights of the market.
My heart has been overflowing with joy, love, and peace ever since I arrived here in May. The longer I’m here, the more these feelings increase. Today I felt as if my heart could explode from happiness. It is such a privilege to be here and to get to know these children. I know this is God’s purpose for me and that this is what I was created to do. Being where God wants me, loving his precious children, and growing closer to Him. I know I am being prayed for. I can feel it. There are times when I know I don’t have the strength or the patience necessary, but God is constantly providing more than I need. Whenever things seem unbearable, God gives me a new attitude and perspective. He is my deliverer. I am experiencing his grace in a whole new way and I am so blessed to be here, right where he wants me.Thank you so much for all your prayers!
I can’t believe I’ve been here for five weeks already! Sometimes I feel like I’ve been here months already, but other times it feels like I just got here.
Adjustments and challenges. There have been many of both. My expectations of living in Haiti for 11 weeks were much different than it really is. I expected life to be a lot more uncomfortable. I thought I’d always be super hot and sweaty. I was worried the kids would have a difficult time adjusting to my presence in place of Katie and Rebecca’s. I was worried about not liking the food or getting really sick and many other things that people who seldom travel would “warn” me about. But the real challenge for me has been building and maintaining healthy relationships with each of these kids. I love caring for the twins, but they practically consume my entire day. I am either holding them, feeding them, changing them, or watching them to make sure they don’t eat a marker or climb down the front steps. It’s been hard to manage my time with kids individually as I am occupied with the babies.
Another challenge for me has been the language barrier. I came to Haiti knowing only how to say “Good Morning!” and “My name is Mallorie, what is your name?” in Creole. Even though most of the kids understand English very well, primarily they tend to speak Creole with each other and the workers. It’s difficult to understand what’s going on because so often I don’t know what’s being said. Maybe it’s better I don’t know everything they’re saying because I’m pretty sure that all of the workers talk about how ridiculous I am when I am doing laundry. They all sit around me in a circle and watch my every move and I just laugh with them…at myself because I am horrible at hand washing my clothes compared to them!
My pride is being tested more than it ever has been before and I am realizing how little patience I have in the midst of overwhelming chaos. God is also teaching me to have discernment in moments when the root of the problem is unclear. I am also learning what real joy feels like. It doesn’t feel like happiness. It’s not a comfy-cozy feeling when life seems simple or easy. Rather it is the peace that comes when you find joy in the midst of sorrows. Joy is what comes when you know that you are free to live in God’s grace. When I have joy, it feels as if my heart is singing and that is exactly how I feel here.
I am exhausted but I feel alive. Every day there are new burdens to bear yet I have a peace that I can’t explain. I am the weakest I have ever felt, yet there is a sense of strength and energy carrying me through the most strenuous and tiring days. My heart is singing and I love everything about this.
My love for these children grows deeper every day. I am starting to feel a deeper connection with each of them individually. I am learning to be understanding and sensitive towards each kid’s needs. I am constantly making mistakes, especially in the midst of conflict, but I am learning, slowly but surely. I am thankful for the grace that everyone shows me in the midst of these mistakes. I was so discouraged when some of the relationships with the kids were challenging. I guess I came with the expectation that I would be trusted and respected by each child, therefore I would have 18 wonderful relationships. Pssh! Now I’m embarrassed by how selfish those feelings are. I’m beginning to understand that I am not entitled to any of these relationships. Rather, each child that chooses to sit on my lap, tell me how they’re feeling, or give me a hug and a kiss is an honor. These kids have been through more than any of us can imagine and so any sort of connection with them is a privilege.
I am thankful to be here to care for them, love them, and play with them during this transition. Although their stories seem tragic they are also beautiful. Their situations are all bittersweet as they pursue adoption to the United States. Some of them have lost their parents prior to coming to Sue’s, but there are some who have at least one parent still living. Some children have both parents still living. I told a few of the older kids that my mom died 10 years ago. They looked at me with surprise and could;t believe that I had gone through something similar to them. It was as if I had become a real person to them, someone who has experienced pain and loss. As hard as it is for me to accept the reality of their stories, or their mixed feelings of pain and hope, I am comforted by God’s love for them and the way He is redeeming their broken stories just like He always has for His children, just like He continues to do for me.
My heart breaks continually for the baggage that is carried around by these precious children. This past week especially, I feel like I’ve been riding on a roller coaster of emotions. I can’t remember ever having such constant joy along with sadness. It’s ridiculous how much I’ve been crying lately! I think I’ve cried almost every day. Some days there have only been a few tears, while other days I feel like there’s a never ending flow.
Last Friday, Rebecca came for a surprise visit to say her final goodbyes. It was a spontaneous idea that she couldn’t resist. It had been two weeks since she had said goodbye and left for an orphanage in Leogane when she was driving through our area and couldn’t resist one last goodbye. My jaw dropped when the gate opened and she was standing there with tears in her eyes. I immediately started to cry and felt so sad for her as she held the twins as tight as she could. The kids were happy to see her again as she hugged and kissed them over and over. I feel so sorry for them as they are constantly having people come in and out of their lives, myself included.
On Saturday Baby Son-Son’s parents came for a visit and my heart broke as I watched them talk to Sue and watch their son play. I cried as I sat on the porch holding Noah tight in my arms. I cried as I thought about what his parents were going through and as I realized more of what goes into the process of adoption.
While all of the children go to church on Sunday mornings, the adults stay home with the 5 younger boys; Jean, Son-Son, Joshua, Noah, and Jackson. We were hoping to have time for a devotion and prayer when the twins took their morning nap, but as soon as were asleep and we laid them down, more visitors came. This time it was the twin’s grandparents and half-brother (or something like that) were here to see them. After a few minutes of sitting with them, Hannah and I decided to get the boys from their nap and just hold them as they slept. We offered each grandparent a baby to hold, and they eagerly took them in their arms. When the twins woke up they didn’t recognize their grandparents and naturally wanted to be held by someone familiar…me. I felt a strange sense of guilt as I knew that I was not supposed to be the one they reach for when they’re afraid. I am not their mother. But I’ve become a mother to them. It’s probably the strangest privilege I’ve ever had. Both of Noah and Jackson’s parents are still living, but they didn’t come to visit. Sue said the grandparents had come asking if the boy that was with them could stay at the orphanage. Unfortunately, we are completely full and Sue had to say no. After they left, I rocked Noah backed to sleep and cried the hardest I’ve cried in a long time as my heart broke for their situation.
On Tuesday Mike, Gregor, Cody, and Kaylah left. We all enjoyed having Sue’s family here. Of course, I started to cry as I said goodbye to Mike. His presence in this home was prominent. He is gentle and loving, yet firm with the kids. He could be energetic and loud as he ran around with the kids, and then relaxed and quiet as he would read them a story or put them to bed. I really enjoyed having deep late-night conversations with him in the kitchen as he filtered water for all of us to drink the next day. During one of our conversations, I was telling everyone how hungry I always am here and that I eat so much at lunch and dinner. And that’s when Mike said “Mallorie, the only thing I’ve noticed you do more than eat is smile”. He couldn’t have said anything more encouraging to me as I thought about how content and happy I am here.
Having Hannah and Josh around has made such a difference. I have had so much more time to spend with the other kids since I no longer have two babies to hold. I have really loved having friends to talk with throughout the day. They are both so good with the kids and such an encouragement to me. Hannah brought a bible study curriculum for us to use that includes a game, a story, discussion, and a memory verse. So far, the kids seem to really like the curriculum and have been doing a great job memorizing the bible verses. I love it when they teach them to the younger kids after they’ve returned from school. Keep praying for Hannah and Josh as they continue to adjust to life here. Pray that we would all build healthy relationships as we love these kids. Pray that we would be able to show them how much God loves them and cares for them.
Beach. Last week Monday we piled 28 people into two tap-taps and drove about an hour and a half to the beach. Tap-taps are Haiti’s form of public transportation. Our driver promised us a beach where there wouldn’t be any loud parties or drinking but we were given much more than that. It was a private beach surrounded by mountains and palm trees. The water was bright blue and the beach was free of sea urchins. It seemed like a place that could be rented for parties or big events. We all had an amazing time swimming and playing on the beach and I was so thankful that there weren’t any injuries or major sunburns. I had so much fun holding Jean in the water as he overcame his fear of swimming. Jennifer and I spent a lot of time together collecting shells for her mom and I loved having Samantha sing to me as she sat on my lap in the tap-tap on the way home.
Joyful peace. Being here makes me more certain that this is what I want to be doing with my life. Maybe I won’t be serving at an orphanage in Haiti, but I know I will be doing something similar to this. This is definitely where God wanted me for this summer and I can’t describe the incredible feeling of being exactly where God wants you. I love that He has given me the desire to travel and I hope to live in a foreign country someday. I know that there are going to be challenges, there have already been many. I know that I am incapable of doing anything perfect and that I will make a multitude of mistakes, I already have. But I am comforted by the strength that God has given me to get through the challenges and the grace He showers my imperfections with. I am thankful for the “calling” he has given me and I am reminded of what John Piper says in Desiring God. It’s something like “glorify God by enjoying Him forever”. We were created to worship Him and bring glory to Him. He love us so much and truly wants what’s best for us. Of course, there’s going to be pain, suffering, and sin. That naturally comes with living in a world corrupted by sin. But God has a plan to redeem us from our separation from Him and He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our sin.