Grandma Sue

Sue Witt, the woman in charge of the orphanage, is incredible. I’ve never met anyone like her. She runs her household with grace as she is both gentle and firm with the kids. Her selflessness is apparent as she cares for 18 children rather than having a typical American retirement. Most elderly people choose to live a comfortable retirement close to their grandchildren or in a warm climate, while Sue has been serving in Haiti for 15 years. Whenever I’m feeling worn out or overwhelmed, Sue tells me stories about her struggles throughout the years. She told me about a woman who tried to sue her for thousands of dollars, or the man who stole her bus that she used for evangelism and outreach, or the year that she spent in hiding as she cared for 5 babies alone. She casually tells her stories with a smile as she talks about the realities of being a missionary in Haiti. Originally, she came to teach English at Christianville, a ministry here in Haiti. After working with a few different ministries, she now she runs the orphanage here in Bon Repos. In about a month, she will be moving everyone back to Christianville where a new home is being built for us! We are all excited to have more space to run around and play outside, to have clean water, and a more reliable water pump and electric system! Pray for us as we begin to pack and move everyone to a new home.

Sue was sick all day yesterday and spent most of the day in bed. Today she still feels weak and nauseous.  Pray for a quick recovery. Her son and grandsons are coming arrive today and will be here for a week. Pray for strength and health as she continues to care for these kids and hosts her guests this week.

The twins, Noah and Jackson, both have their two bottom teeth now! And now they’re getting their two top teeth, which means they’ve been fussy and not sleeping well. The other night they were both crying off and on, and somehow as I was half-asleep and rocking them, they both ended up in my bed with me. I woke up in the morning with two babies on top of me! As most of you probably know, I’m not a morning person. But when you wake up at 6am to two smiling babies, it’s hard not to be in a good mood. I love these boys so much! For the most part, they’re very happy babies. They are so cute together as they talk to each other and make each other laugh.  They’re both crawling now and Jackson has become exceptionally fast. They both love climbing up the front porch steps and racing each other across the front yard.

My good friends, Hannah and Josh, are coming on Thursday and will be here to help for six weeks. I CANNOT WAIT FOR THEM TO GET HERE! I’m excited for the kids to meet them and for the boys to have an older guy around. I’m anxious to have Hannah here to help with the twins.It’s been almost two weeks since Rebecca left and as you can probably imagine, there are moments when I just can’t manage both babies at the same time! Hannah is one of my best friends and I’m excited to share this adventure with her. Pray for Hannah and Josh as they travel here and transition into our family. Pray for the kids as they go through the changes of having new help here. Pray for all three of us as we work together to love and serve the kids.

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I find it amazing how God brought me to Haiti. I came to Haiti for the first time with a group from Wisconsin last year. We came for two weeks to do medical & dental clinics, to work at a water project, and other various things. Half of the time we stayed at Sue’s orphanage and the other half at the water project. I knew that the Lord was leading me to go on the trip but I had no idea how I would be able to afford it. Just a few weeks before we were supposed to leave, enough donations had been given to covering the entirety of the cost of the trip, without ever asking for any financial support. God provides. I went on the trip with big expectations and returned with frustrations toward some of the aspects of short term mission trips. I loved meeting the people of Haiti and I was thankful to have met the missionaries there, but I felt that the trip lacked closure and wondered why God had wanted me to go there.

About a year later I was praying about where I would do my internship and then I thought about Sue’s orphanage and all of the kids there. A few days later, a friend told me that the two girls from the States who were helping Sue would be leaving in May. After a few weeks of praying and thinking about it, it was obvious that I should go. Sue was excited for me to come and my advisor had approved it as an internship. The next few months were hard as I continued studying at school when I really just wanted to be on my way to Haiti. I was so excited that it was all I could think about.

I was relieved when Sue told me that my only expense would be my airline ticket because the other internships that I had been considering cost about $3-5000! As much of a relief that this was, I knew that spending a summer in Haiti meant sacrificing pay checks from a full-time summer job. I was worried about my school loans payments and next year’s tuition. As I struggled to trust the Lord to provide, I got an email from my school’s financial aid department informing me that I had received a Missions scholarship that would cover about 20% of next year’s tuition. Again, God provides.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude toward my parents who offered to pay for my airfare and to those who donated money and supplies to the orphanage. I’m thankful for those who continues to encourage me and to pray for me. I am blessed to be here and to be a part of this family for the summer. I am thankful for the twins and the joy that they bring to everyone. I am thankful for the little girls that help me wash my laundry. I am thankful for the boys who always make me laugh. I am thankful for Sue and her love for these kids. I am thankful for God’s faithfulness and provision.

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Rebecca and I decided that it was important for our boys to be “cool”. So we thought it was time for some Fohawks!

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Lizards and Pigeons

I went with the kids to church on Sunday expecting a cultural experience, and that’s what I got! Our drive there was an experience in itself. We rode to church standing in the back of a huge truck as they drove us through puddles and potholes. By the time we got there, we were covered in dust. The adults and kids were separate for Sunday school so I went to the “English” class.  Let’s just say the lesson was 5% English and 95% Creole. The rest of the service was in Creole so I was unable to understand anything. Church ended up being about 4.5 hours long and by the end of the service we were all hot, hungry, and ready to go home. After church, I went with Rebecca and Johnny to the market where bought medicine, formula, baby powder, and some rum raisin ice cream (shh…don’t tell the kids!).

The kitchen always seems to be an eventful place. The one thing that took me a few days to get used to was the lizards. Yep, the lizards. They come into the kitchen at night and crawl all over the walls. Apparently, they eat mosquitos, so I guess they’re okay. The strangest thing was when I walked into the kitchen one morning and found two pigeons eating the scraps on the floor. Gross. I thought I left all the nasty pigeons in Chicago.

The group from Wisconsin was here for the weekend. They brought a projector and we watched the movie Tangled outside. The kids had so much fun and have been quoting the movie and singing the songs ever since!

I’ve spent a lot of time in my bed the last few days because of a fever and a weird stomach ache. It’s so hard to be sick here. All I wanted was to be in my comfortable bed at home with a bottle of pepto bismol. I’m feeling a lot better now and hope to be back to normal tomorrow so that I can take care of the babies and keep up with these energetic kids! Pray that I would feel better and stay healthy.

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10 years ago…

May 18 is the anniversary of my mother’s death. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and fought it for 4 years until the Lord called her home. I was only ten years old when she died. Now I’m twenty and I can’t believe I’ve lived half of my life without her. She was the most beautiful woman always radiating with joy as she loved my dad and took care of my family. She had a deep love for the Lord and always spent her mornings praying and reading her Bible. In the five years she lived in Wisconsin, she managed to make many good friends both in our church and our community. Her gentle spirit, artistic abilities, and sense of humor left an impression on all of those she left behind. Our family misses her greatly. I will never understand why she had to die at such a young age leaving her family and friends behind. I will never understand why cancer won the battle. All I know is that God is in control and that he will remain faithful to our family as he always has. Maybe the reason he allows us to suffer is so that we will be forced to rely on him in our most tragic moments. I know God will continue to provide, comfort, strengthen and sustain us as we continue to miss her.

“Tension is the place where the worst of life and the best of true hope meet to unveil our eyes to God’s artistic work of redemption.” -Matt Hammit (Sanctus Real)

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spicy peanut butter

After a really long overnight layover in Ft Lauderdale, I made it to Port-au-Prince where I was greeted by hundreds of Haitain men who were more than willing to help with my bags… uh oh. Thankfully, I met a man Haitiain man named Jean on the plane who lead me around the airport helping me with my heavy bags. Everyone assumed we were together and left me alone. Sue and Johnny met me outside and drove me to the orphanage where I was greeted by lots of beautiful children and precious babies. Yep, four of the cutest babies I’ve ever seen. I also met Rebecca, the intern/teacher from California that’s been here since September.

I can’t believe I’ve been here for 3 days! I feel like I’ve been here for at least a week. Some of the kids were a little shy at first, but it wasn’t long before we were all buddies. There are 3 older girls Samantha, Erline, & Jennifer (10.5, 11, & 11.5) and two older boys Claudeson and Peter (11 & 9). There is one crazy little boy named Jean (4) and lots of beautiful little girls; Mislanda(8), Michaelle(8), Julliete(6) Betchina(5), Scheelanda(4), Bebej(5), Francesca(3),  and Dianna(3) There are four little baby boys; Baby Son-Son (2.5), Josh (1.5), and the twins Jackson and Noah (8 mos). My main responsibility is taking care of the twins, which I absolutely love even though they’re a handful. I’m so thankful that Rebecca is still here to show me around and teach me how to care for them since she’s been with the twins since they were 3 weeks old. She’s leaving next week and I’m going to miss her so much. I can’t imagine what it will be like for her to have to leave this place and her family here after being here for so long. Keep Becca in your prayers as she leaves her babies and home here and transitions into a new season.

Rebecca and I sleep in the back room that we share with the twins. It’s crazy how in just one week I’ve gone from sharing a dorm room with two college students to sharing a room with twin baby boys! The babies are awake before 6am and we slowly roll out of bed to greet them with hugs and kisses. I’ve never seen such happy babies. In the mornings, half of the children go to school down the street and we homeschool the remaining five children and take care of the babies. The school kids are back around noon and we all eat lunch together. We spend the rest of the afternoon playing outside doing all sorts of fun stuff! Pray for me as I get to know each child and learn to take care of them.

Lori Hellmer and her group from Wisconsin will be here tomorrow sometime and are staying for a few days. It will be fun to see some people from home and spend time with them. So far, I’ve liked all the food here and overall I feel pretty healthy! I’ve been eating peanut butter sandwiches on their delicious Haitian bread for breakfast. The first time I tried it, I was surprised by how spicy it was and then learned that they put spicy peppers in their peanut butter. Of course they’ve taken my one American comfort food and spiced it up! It’s actually pretty good, I just had to take a few bites to get used to it.

Today is Flag day so the kids are all off of school! We celebrated by singing their flag song and eating turkey for lunch. The kids are so excited because we’re also going to have a waterfight in the front yard later!

I am so thankful to be here. God has been so good to me and it’s been incredible to see how him answer so many prayers. I know he is my source of strength and joy.  I can’t describe how happy I am, it feels as though my heart is singing! Being here feels so right, and it feels so good to be where God wants you.

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May 14I can’t …

May 14

I can’t believe I’m finally on my way to Haiti. Last week I finished a crazy semester at Moody and then went home for a few days before leaving. The days at home were filled with bonfires, good friends, delicious food, family, rest, and way too many trips to Walmart. It was the first time since August that our whole family was together, and I’m so thankful I could be there. I am really looking forward to the time that I’ll be in Haiti, but it’s inevitable that I will really miss my family throughout the summer.  I’ve been talking about going to Haiti since January but it wasn’t until the drive to the airport with my dad that the reality of leaving hit me. It’s such a surreal feeling when you’re in a familiar place like home but you know that in just a few days you’ll be in a completely different world. That happened multiple times over the weekend and then the packing, goodbyes, and airport security forced me to realize that I was hours away from my summer in Haiti. The excitement floods in, along with fear and apprehension, keeping me wide awake all night during my layover in the Ft. Lauderdale airport.

The closer the departure gets and the more goodbye’s that pass have created a polarizing feeling about the adventure that lies ahead.  It’s difficult to wrap your mind around something like living in a third world country with 19 Haitian kids before you are actually doing it. I know God is leading me there for the summer, but in these last moments at home it can be very hectic to think about leaving your comfortable surroundings, everyday comforts, and familiar faces and landing in a country that doesn’t speak your native tongue. But once I see past all of the unknown and scary parts of the mission ahead I am reminded of God’s faithfulness thus far andcan see that I am taking one of those ‘trips of a lifetime’.  I know there will be challenges, frustrations, feelings of homesickness, and unreached expectations, but they are nothing compared to what God has in store for this summer. He has provided abundantly and lead me this far, I can’t wait to see what he will teach me there.  The adventure awaits, and I’m ready.

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