Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Symphony

Yesterday was what I call a symphony of chaos. A strategy in randomness. A whirlwind of disorder that landed with everything right side up. As I watched Robinson navigate the customs universe of Haiti it was something to behold. He knows his country, his people, and the system that runs it all. His connections are brilliant. As we sat in one place listening to the noise of so many negotiating people, he said to me: ‘I never need to do this’. The dear friend that is doing all the footwork for us is a very powerful and smart woman, but she has had to go all over the place getting our documents stamps and properly verified. I said to Robinson one time as she was walking away from us, she is really sweating. He said, she is really working hard! I knew in that moment that without her, there is no way we would get our trailers for days.  In the midst of this activity I purchased new mattresses for our orphan boys beds, their old ones are really worn out. Stuff here is terrible in quality, and the boys are a little rough. On the way to the house I asked Rob how we could get rid of the old ones and he said, someone will need them. I cringed on the inside. But then I remembered the woman I have noticed each day who spends hours sitting or sleeping on a concrete ledge on the street corner close to the Mission house. Sometimes she was naked, sometimes clothed, and I realized she would not even notice the condition of the mattress compared to what she has now. Rob said they have a song in Haiti, whatever you don’t need or want, someone else will. He went on to say it’s the same with people. If there is someone you don’t think you can use, someone else will. How out of sorts does our thinking get. We are a country that proclaims tolerance, and yet divisions abound. 70 churches here in St. Marc work together for a city wide evangelization one time a year, on so many levels this is profound. When I asked Robinson about the differences in the churches, he said we need to set those aside for the greater mission. How quickly we race to judgement on what divides us rather than entertain discussion and forward momentum on what unites us. The woman who is such close friends with Rob is a Seventh Day Adventist, but they way they get along with each other one would suppose they were brother and sister. Back to the symphony, as we tumbled through all the minor cords, all the confusion and chaos, something amazing began to emerge, out of all the twists and turns of the day, we were getting our trailers. The day they came off the ship they come into our hands. Someone recently challenged me on how God does all he does. I was reminded of a saying my Great grandpa used to repeat, 'a God comprehended is no God at all'. We received the trailers into our care after the dock was closed, all the offices were closed, and people were staying around to make our shipment release happen. It’s a miracle people. You may have wondered were the post was last night. Well, we never stopped working all night long. The symphony had a crescendo that landed with me and Robinson at the police station at midnight with them having confiscated the license plate of the Toyota over a parking issue on the street while we unloaded the larger trailer. I was out of my mind with disgust. When you have been in Haiti for ten years and witnessed the kind of parking violations I have that have lasted years, yes, I mean years, take for instance a broken down car parked in front of Rob’s house for years with dogs dying under it. I was ready to give them a piece of my mind. But grace prevailed and I waited for an hour in the Toyota while Rob worked with the police inside the station. I had given him $100 to pay them off, when he finally came out and told me what went down, I was ashamed of myself. His gracious and truthful demeanor along with telling them of the day and his work, ended up with him with his license plate back for free. As he was leaving he said to them all, I am Pastor Robinson Louis and I want to thank you for your good service in the town. Eyes bugged and arms flew up, and shame stormed through the room. They exclaimed to him he should have told them he was a pastor. He said there was no reason to do that, that he was human and was capable of mistakes. They were astounded by his response and told him they were sorry. I think this will be news in town today. It was humor laced with incredible grace. It was a reminder how God takes the chaos and confusion of our often sorry decisions and renders them into a stunning symphony of angelic proportions. As I stood in the darkness at around 12:45 am this morning at the new church property with the new trailer parked on it, I looked up at the star studded sky and couldn’t help but wonder at the accomplishment of the day in spite of everything that had gone wrong, much more had gone right. I won’t lie, I’m exhausted today, at the end of the busiest last day in Haiti ever, but it’s a good feeling. A couple days and we’ll all be fine. It’s been another great trip. Blessings from between St. Marc and home.  

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Frozen

I am currently on a plane part way between Miami and Chicago. Our trip is quickly coming to a close. We finished out our last full day in Haiti well last night although I must admit that it turned out differently than I had planned. We all crawled out of our bug tents, got ready for the day, ate breakfast, cleaned up the mission house and got to the orphanage by 9:30. The kids had made sure to inform me that they wanted us to come early in the morning so we could have lots of time together. Everyone had known that it was birthday party day. It is something we've been doing for at least a couple of years now. Our best laid intentions of spending the day playing were vetoed by said party though. The whole place, children included were happily running around cleaning and cooking. You could feel the buzz of excitement vibrating throughout the entire household. Instead of the nice and calm day we had been expecting, we all quickly got sucked into the vortex of preparations for home, preparations for the party, unexpected and last minute tasks and all while trying to handle the idea of leaving. Dad, Lee and Pat spent a great deal of the day working hard to get the trailer off of the docks. Deloris and Mom were busy and hard at work organizing the storage room, taking inventory, passing out the rest of the goods we had brought in the suitcases, as well as tons of other things most people are unaware have to be done on these trips. Abigail and Kelly were rocking it out helping to cook all the food with the Haitian ladies for the party. Emma, Caeli and myself spent hours in a deathly hot kitchen, pouring over 12 giant banners with each of the kids names on them. Our extremely talented Caeli had drawn their names in beautiful lettering for the children to decorate and hang on the walls for their birthday party. It backfired a bit on us this year because they ended up begging us to decorate them because they wanted them to be perfect. So we stood, bent over a table with crayons and paints, drawing everything from flowers and frogs to planets and soccer balls all over these banners. Partway through the afternoon, I could feel tensions getting high. The pressure of getting everything done, spending time with the kids, getting the trailer, not having a translator around and creating a magical party for the children was getting to many if not all of us in different ways. However, everyone pulled together the frayed ends of our emotions and plowed through. Dad and Rob got the trailers off the docks and the house became an even bigger bustle of activity as many hands started bringing every kind of good imaginable and filling nooks and crannies all over the house. The ladies worked themselves to the bone to get all these important but extremely monotonous and tiring jobs finished up. Every table surface in the house was soon filled with bowls and platters of rice, beans, chicken, goat, noodles, plantains and many other things that Abigail and Kelly helped bring to fruition. The living room and kitchen were transformed into a Frozen winter wonderland/ Avengers superhero dream land  with everyone's beautiful names acting as a rainbow wallpaper affect in the background. It all fell into place. Our party started much later than planned but the smiles on these kids faces was worth every drop of sweat and every frustration felt throughout the day as they sat listening to Dad tell them why we do these birthday parties. Because we are celebrating the day God placed them on this earth and into our lives. To celebrate how special they are, how important they are and how loved they are. Let me tell you, if you've never been in a room full of children that everyone else has written off as hopeless causes, children who have suffered more in their short lives than most, children with all the odds stacked against them, and tell them the exact opposite of those things... it is an indescribable kind of joy and heartache. We sang, they blew out the candles on their cake, opened their gifts (dolls for the girls and remote control cars for the boys), we ate dinner, passed out Coca Cola bottles for everyone, took pictures with photo booth props, played pin the tail on the donkey, played an intensely wonderful game of 'balloon keep away' with 30 balloons filling the small room and ate cake. It was truly wonderful. Rob and dad had more work to do with the trailer after that even though it was getting late. Us girls all voted to stay at the orphanage even though we didn't know when they would finish and be back to take us to the mission house. I am really grateful that we did that. Those last few hours with the kids were precious. I spent most of it sitting on the floor of the kitchen playing clapping games and talking with the kids. I am not even close to fluent in the language but the kids and I have figured out a simplistic but effective way of communicating back and forth about most things that kids want to talk about. Last nights topic of conversation was all about not wanting us to go. Dina and Otelson gave me a whole list of people they would like for me to bring next time I come. They begged for us to stay another month, another week and finally just one more day. I tried to play along, tease back and smile all while holding my overwhelming emotions at bay. Vladimir fell asleep on my lap and our oldest girl, Liline, who is trying so hard to act and feel grown at the difficult age of 14, leaned curled against me crying for over an hour. I don't even begin to know how to explain this to anyone. I love these kids as much as I can imagine loving my own children someday. They are literally pleading with me not to leave them. Begging me. What do you say to them? I still haven't figured that out. Not sure I ever will. I don't know what God's plan is yet but I was reminded strongly last evening that He is not done with me in Haiti. I don't know why He has called me to this or allowed me to be here but as I went to kiss 13 year old Dina who was sitting on the stairs, goodbye, she wrapped her arm around me, pulling me close and whispered in my ear 'Krystle, please. Everyone else can go home to Michigan but please don't leave. Stay here with me.'. Ugh. I choked back my own sobs and kept them buried deep in my heart as each of them in turn clung to me. No words. We didn't leave until close to 1am. We got back to the mission house to pack, shower and be ready to leave at 4am. The most sleep any of us got before being up again was about 30 minutes. No one seemed to care in the longer scheme of things. Our travels thus far today have been smooth and without any unforeseen difficulties. Prayers for a successful and uneventful finish to home. Also, for a smooth transition to getting back home and jumping back into life. This is something I particularly struggle with. It is never easy for me to switch back and forth. My heart longs and aches for both and it always seems to be a losing battle. 

I don't write my posts to sound beautiful, to have perfect grammar, to have profound thoughts or anything else of the kind. They are written to be raw and straight from my heart and hopefully give the tiniest glimpse of what this journey looks and feels like for those who can't be there. I want to thank each of you for reading, supporting, encouraging and praying. You are a very important part to this ministry. Blessings to all from 30,000 feet and somewhere between both of my homes. 


Krystle 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Panic

Another day down. Today was church day which means morning came earlier than our already early mornings. I have decided to tell a truth in this post... for several reasons which I hope to pull into collective thoughts as I continue writing. I have felt that because I have grown up in a Christian home, because I have a personal relationship with Jesus and because I voluntarily go on these trips, that I should just adore Sunday's and going to church while here. Here is the truth though... it is the part of the trip I dread most and is only trumped by one other thing which is leaving. Now, before anyone freaks out, let me explain myself. It is not the act of going to church that I dislike. It is everything that goes with it and piles together, making it feel completely overwhelming. Lack of sleep followed by an early morning. Trying to apply make up that keeps dripping down your face with beads of sweat. Taming manes of frizzy and partially wet hair into something presentable. Stuffing swollen feet into dress shoes. Scarfing down granola bars and cups of coffee. Riding on the back of the Toyota in dress clothes trying to remain unscathed by the dust and dirt we are surrounded by. When you finally pull up to the church gate, you have to crawl over, under, and through scores of people and children, only to be led across the platform in front of the entire congregation to the benches they have recently cleared of people for us. The service starts with singing which is always enjoyable but just a few minutes in, there is so much body heat being produced that the feeling of suffocation becomes a reality. We have a fan... but you can be guaranteed that half of the team is not getting air at any given time. The culture and way of worship is beautiful and inspiring but at the same time, completely different from what most people would be accustomed to. You don't understand one word being said for the first two hours. Your one comfort is when mothers hand you their babies or little ones come up asking to be held... it gives me a momentary sense of purpose but the extra bodies only add to the feeling of death by lack of air. Then comes the moment we have all been waiting for... the one that has left the younger half of this crowd feeling nauseated and stressed out of our minds. We are asked to come onto the platform and 'introduce' ourselves which actually means they would like to hear something personal and meaningful. I talk often about how grateful I am, but when it comes to this situation, I am beyond grateful for a translator as amazing as Claudy who makes us sound good even as we stumble through our introductions. Skip ahead a few hours and I am once again using Claudy's talents to speak with one of my best friends here in Haiti. It's been a difficult year for both of us but he has so few resources to help him and I want to be there for him in whatever way I can. I asked him a question which I have been pondering myself for some time recently. 'What do you want out of life?'. His answer was simple, direct and honest. He knows what he wants. He knows how to get it. He is extremely bright with one of the best personalities a person can be in possession of and unending amounts of talent and potential. He has to take those steps towards what he wants out of this life. His struggles and pain are real. None of these little things we find ourselves complaining about. My heart broke as he poured out his heart to me, tears quietly slipping from his eyes and down his face as he described the horror that is currently his life. I told him he is more loved than he can possibly imagine and that this is just a chapter in his story. There were lots of hugs and tears and 'I love you's' passed around and I felt a piece of my heart slip back into place. He thanked me and told me how much I mean to him but he has no idea that I was given as much help this afternoon by him. My challenge for him was to attend church on Sunday's for the month of November. I told him that even if it's uncomfortable, even if he doesn't feel anything from God, even if the whole thing seems severely uncomfortable, just to show up and be there. See what God does from there. I laughed at myself afterwards because I gave the exact advice I needed to hear. It was a stressful morning getting ready but I was ready on time. I felt like death through part of the service but I got to hold some precious kids who needed me in that moment. I had made myself practically ill over speaking in front of a crowd but I did it... and I actually spoke pretty well as did the rest of the team. I heard a great and uplifting message from my father. As the service ended, I had streams of people approach me for greetings, hugs, kisses and pictures. And you know what? I looked decent enough in my photos. It was actually a pretty fantastic morning. God blessed me in a huge way just for going through the motions this morning exactly as I later told my dear friend would happen for him. I swear God has a killer sense of humor. It was a fantastic reminder for me today that sometimes, you just keep going. You don't have to understand how or why. You don't have to be happy or feel capable. Sometimes you just put one foot in front of the other and trust in the fact that God will lead the way. I have more to share about our day but it will have to wait for another blog, as this one is already much too long! Love and blessings to all who are following this amazing journey. 


Krystle 

Taming

Another day down. Today was church day which means morning came earlier than our already early mornings. I have decided to tell a truth in this post... for several reasons which I hope to pull into collective thoughts as I continue writing. I have felt that because I have grown up in a Christian home, because I have a personal relationship with Jesus and because I voluntarily go on these trips, that I should just adore Sunday's and going to church while here. Here is the truth though... it is the part of the trip I dread most and is only trumped by one other thing which is leaving. Now, before anyone freaks out, let me explain myself. It is not the act of going to church that I dislike. It is everything that goes with it and piles together, making it feel completely overwhelming. Lack of sleep followed by an early morning. Trying to apply make up that keeps dripping down your face with beads of sweat. Taming manes of frizzy and partially wet hair into something presentable. Stuffing swollen feet into dress shoes. Scarfing down granola bars and cups of coffee. Riding on the back of the Toyota in dress clothes trying to remain unscathed by the dust and dirt we are surrounded by. When you finally pull up to the church gate, you have to crawl over, under, and through scores of people and children, only to be led across the platform in front of the entire congregation to the benches they have recently cleared of people for us. The service starts with singing which is always enjoyable but just a few minutes in, there is so much body heat being produced that the feeling of suffocation becomes a reality. We have a fan... but you can be guaranteed that half of the team is not getting air at any given time. The culture and way of worship is beautiful and inspiring but at the same time, completely different from what most people would be accustomed to. You don't understand one word being said for the first two hours. Your one comfort is when mothers hand you their babies or little ones come up asking to be held... it gives me a momentary sense of purpose but the extra bodies only add to the feeling of death by lack of air. Then comes the moment we have all been waiting for... the one that has left the younger half of this crowd feeling nauseated and stressed out of our minds. We are asked to come onto the platform and 'introduce' ourselves which actually means they would like to hear something personal and meaningful. I talk often about how grateful I am, but when it comes to this situation, I am beyond grateful for a translator as amazing as Claudy who makes us sound good even as we stumble through our introductions. Skip ahead a few hours and I am once again using Claudy's talents to speak with one of my best friends here in Haiti. It's been a difficult year for both of us but he has so few resources to help him and I want to be there for him in whatever way I can. I asked him a question which I have been pondering myself for some time recently. 'What do you want out of life?'. His answer was simple, direct and honest. He knows what he wants. He knows how to get it. He is extremely bright with one of the best personalities a person can be in possession of and unending amounts of talent and potential. He has to take those steps towards what he wants out of this life. His struggles and pain are real. None of these little things we find ourselves complaining about. My heart broke as he poured out his heart to me, tears quietly slipping from his eyes and down his face as he described the horror that is currently his life. I told him he is more loved than he can possibly imagine and that this is just a chapter in his story. There were lots of hugs and tears and 'I love you's' passed around and I felt a piece of my heart slip back into place. He thanked me and told me how much I mean to him but he has no idea that I was given as much help this afternoon by him. My challenge for him was to attend church on Sunday's for the month of November. I told him that even if it's uncomfortable, even if he doesn't feel anything from God, even if the whole thing seems severely uncomfortable, just to show up and be there. See what God does from there. I laughed at myself afterwards because I gave the exact advice I needed to hear. It was a stressful morning getting ready but I was ready on time. I felt like death through part of the service but I got to hold some precious kids who needed me in that moment. I had made myself practically ill over speaking in front of a crowd but I did it... and I actually spoke pretty well as did the rest of the team. I heard a great and uplifting message from my father. As the service ended, I had streams of people approach me for greetings, hugs, kisses and pictures. And you know what? I looked decent enough in my photos. It was actually a pretty fantastic morning. God blessed me in a huge way just for going through the motions this morning exactly as I later told my dear friend would happen for him. I swear God has a killer sense of humor. It was a fantastic reminder for me today that sometimes, you just keep going. You don't have to understand how or why. You don't have to be happy or feel capable. Sometimes you just put one foot in front of the other and trust in the fact that God will lead the way. I have more to share about our day but it will have to wait for another blog, as this one is already much too long! Love and blessings to all who are following this amazing journey. 


Krystle 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Distant


Normally Sunday in Haiti after church is over I drop into a lower gear, slow down, and begin a general shift in the homeward direction. Not that we are going home yet, but settling in with the fact that the trip is quickly coming to a close. For some reason today was radically different. First off, here in Haiti the time changed and few knew it. We’re not connected to cell towers so our phones aren’t showing a time change. But it did never the less. When we arrived at the church it was the biggest Sunday morning crowd I have ever experienced. Halfway through the singing the borrowed sound system conked out. When I announced to the church that I had a new sound system in our shipment, they clapped and cheered with joy! One of the themes of this trip for me has been patience. Watching these people deal with all kinds of crazy stuff and never get edgy is just incredible to observe all over again. Many had to sit through the service this morning, not even able to hear what I had to say, and yet they sat there, attentive, relaxed, and content. I confessed to the people in my message this morning that my American blood runs cold and slow with patience. I could fill this post tonight with all the other things we managed to pull off today, but for me the most important moment came unexpectedly. I confess I am a pusher, and I find it hard to sit still. So my connection with our orphans has been much more distant than let’s say Beth, or Krystle. As I came though the house this afternoon, Vanessa caught my eye, she and I have connected more deeply this trip, I smiled at her then paused beside her to give her a quick side hug and continue on my mission, which now I don’t even remember because as I pulled her up and bent over to give her a kiss on the forehead she folded right into my side. Normally they push away from me on their own missions to play or fulfil some task they have been given, I stopped, feeling her boney little back touching my arm, I lifted my arm and began to massage her neck and then her back and felt her muscles relax. Haiti is such a hard land, so unforgiving, so rough, I could feel the Haitian clutch upon her. In that moment nothing else mattered, she needed to feel the salve of my love, not someone else’s, mine. This trip has been more relational for me than previous trips, heaven knows how much I love these people, but I have loved Robinson most of all, and dedicated my energy and time trying to follow the God vision he has, and in turn that I have, to bring the Gospel to these people. But in this serene moment, vision was not what Vanessa needed, she needed to feel a father’s love. The tenderness of her melting into my embrace I can still feel tonight, several hours later. We shouldn’t want the chapters of the books of our lives written about what we accomplished, what we acquired, or how famous we were, but what lives we touched in being God’s hand extended. In Haiti where its President has laid out the five problems the country has: corruption, corruption, corruption, corruption, corruption, we serve out heaping platters of love, love, love, love, and love. It could be argued that love alone cannot change a country or corruption, but tonight, as I sit here pondering the day, and a beautiful little soul named Vanessa, I’m confident that the love of God alone can actually change a nation. Our text from Psalm 33:13-22 actually lays out that fact quite clearly.  So we labor on in love today, steadfast love. Tomorrow promises to be a big day, lots on the agenda, including hopefully seeing access to our goods at the dock. But tonight that still remains in second place to the larger agenda of spreading love out in thick and unreasonable measures. We have so appreciated the comments and encouragement from home. We pray we finish well. Blessings always from St. Marc.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Curtain


As the curtain drops on day 6 of this trip, my mind feels a bit like jello. I studied pretty intently today between several meetings and trips around town. Robinson and I misunderstood a financial transaction between us early this morning which took us to the ship dock to sort out. Last night I began to feel like we wouldn’t see our trailers today, and tonight as I type away, they are still on the ship. We were down and checked in on the unloading process several times, and I never saw our rig or the trailers out on the dock. Our meeting this morning was about keeping our stuff safe while they clear customs, and there is one less day I have to worry about because tonight it is safely inside the ship. The grace of finding the important things to be grateful for when the hoped for plan does not come to fruition. I’m sitting at the dining room table in the kitchen of the mission house working on this post, Robinson is laying on the tile floor next to me drifting in and out of sleep. He is sleeping on a couple sheets and a thin quilt used as padding. He sleeps in front of the door that is the access to the house. If you’re going to get to us, you will need to clear him first. It always gets to me at certain moments, this giant of a man was once a discarded orphan boy. I had to talk straight to our orphan boys this trip, a couple of them have crossed into that age where every young person comes to, and I shared with them a couple details of his early years. It changed the tenor of the conversation. Not that they are being bad boys, they are just struggling with growing into their new ages. Robinson is a very gifted and discerning individual and is and inspiration to me every time I get the opportunity to be around him. He was up all night for the long night prayer service, he came in this morning early having already been to the dock to check on the ship, we turned around and went back down to get the paperwork started on our shipment and then plowed through our days activities and he never stopped. So now my 22 hours to get here is nothing compared to his 41 hours he has been awake taking care of his own church family, managing a big project at our new property, taking care of a team of ten Americans, and handling the details of getting his family back into town from the funeral of his wife’s grandma. Did I mention he is a busy guy. And yet he never lost his cool, he sweeps along effortlessly, gracefully, and lovingly among his culture. I would like to believe a bit of him is rubbing off on me. This morning I told him I was no longer concerned if I got to have the goods off the trailers before I left. I surrendered all the details up last night and was unwilling to miss the other poignant and needed moments of this trip. I am speaking from Psalm 33 in the morning. I’m going to speak on hope. In my message I make the point that all the free goods we have by way of clothing and shoes will likely be pretty much worn out in just a few months. The country is so harsh and hard on stuff. I didn’t even work excessively today but as I washed off in the shower tonight I could not help but notice the trial of dirty water headed to the drain. The stuff we do and bring is but momentary, what will bring peace and contentment for a lifetime? I Corinthians 13:13 reminds us that faith, hope, and love remain, the greatest is love. We do our best to bring all three. This is the biggest truth we bring, the greatest good we seed, and it stands in stark contrast to everything around us, in a culture hardened by years of aggressive poverty. I’m grateful for an orphan tonight, I’m grateful grace has erased his hardness, I’m grateful our lives have intersected. It’s a profound journey to be on. And I’m glad for all those connected with us on this incredible mission! Blessings from St. Marc!

Core

Good evening, from Saint Marc. Keeping up with the days is just not going to be a thing this trip around. Too busy to write as much as I'd like. I've been able to get a lot more time with the orphans than on some of our past team trips. Especially with our older kids as Robinson's children are with Naromie in Desdunes for her grandmothers funeral. Having a couple of days without the distractions that come with little ones has been really nice for our older kids. They are all growing and changing at a rapid pace. So goes life... though I am not here with them nearly as often as I would like, time does not stop or even slow down. People come and go, things live and die, and children grow up. Sometimes, the thought of all the things I am missing in their lives, tears at the very core of my heart. Very few people understand how much they mean to me. None of these things stop the ongoing march of time though. The patience these people possess astounds me. Day in and day out they perform the same monotonous tasks just to handle the basics of life such as eating, drinking, personal hygiene and sleeping. Outside of these things, there is little for them to do. I watch as they sit for hours, not grumbling or complaining or becoming anxious about things. I am jealous of it. And I realize that we only have a couple of options. We can kick and scream and cry but time will still be holding firmly to our hand, dragging us to the finish line whether we want to go or not. It is inevitable. That leaves us with the second option, being that we can take the moments as they come, ride out the storms, find joy and contentment where we can, acceptance as it is needed and most importantly, let God work His plan through our lives. If we do that, time is still there but we are walking together towards something better than the long and winding roads we are currently journeying. Just because I am writing this out, it does not mean I know how to do this part of life very gracefully. But, I have 8 of the best teachers in this department one could possibly hope for. Their struggles have been innumerable and are not yet finished. And yet, they somehow manage to fill that house with more light and joy than I ever thought was humanly possible. Growing they are, but they still embody the same beautiful souls I have known since they were tiny. God has plans for these kids, just like He has for each of us he has placed on this earth. 

As for other happenings, play time with the orphans is always a highlight for everyone. Games, toys and movies unending. Lee, Emma and I got a special opportunity that doesn't usually happen on team trips. The other 7 team members left for Desdunes while the three of us stayed behind to watch the kids. Emma and I immediately got drawn into a very intense and sweaty game of street hockey with two shoes as the goals. It was the two American girls against the boys and with all of the laughter that was ringing through the house, I'd say we provided them with quite the show! It ended when Emma spotted a very large spider which the boys were kind enough to beat to death. They then proceeded to chase her through the house with the corpse of said arachnid on the end of their hockey stick. We decorated every inch of concrete in the courtyard with chalk drawings, ate lots of snacks, colored pictures and just hung out and enjoyed being together. All of the girls are fantastic at making meal time happen but Emma has been my girl for four years now and we decided to tackle our favorite meal (that is me being sarcastic since this meal usually ends with us in tears on the balcony... ha!), ham, potatoes and corn. If you've never stood over a propane cook stove with a hose the spontaneously catches fire, sweat dripping, literally dripping from your face onto the pan below, frying 12 gelatinous masses of mystery 'ham' that leaves a film of grease over your whole body, you have not experienced true joy. As I stated before, this meal has never failed to bring us to tears at some point and time in the cooking process... and the fall trip of 2017 was no different. And yet, it is our favorite meal to make for reasons unknown. It might be Krystle and Emma's one true purpose on these trips... cooking the ham which happens to be the Haitians favorite food we bring. It was a successful day! 

Lots more games and fun today. Rob worked hard to arrange for a large amount of our students to come to his house to write thank you notes, gather updated info and have their picture taken to be sent to sponsors for this coming school year. It has been nice to do it in a smaller and less overwhelming version, especially for the kids. Everyone has been doing an amazing job with it but I must send a shoutout to Caeli who has been rocking it out in school department. Whenever a new child shows up, she is the first to jump up and help them, often times leaving her food sitting so she can help. She has taken beautiful pictures of each of them, working hard to make sure the children are happy with their photo and feel special. Hopefully, we will still be able to finish with the majority of them before leaving. Tonight is sleepover night. The orphans always ask to come spend the night at the mission house with us and this year we were able to make it happen. We gathered snacks, glow sticks, movies, blankets, 8 children and we piled everyone and everything into the Toyota. We ended the evening with a showing of Wonder Woman. Half an hour into the movie, 5 of the 8 were fast asleep. Abigail was sharing her lap with sweet Bigodson. Caeli made room for Otelson on her folding chair who fell asleep sitting up. Iftha was using Emma as a bed and I had Vanessa and Liline using my legs as pillows, their arms wrapped all around me. We were all sweating and sore from sitting on the concrete but couldn't bring ourselves to move and wake up our sleeping angels. When it was time, the oldest boys made their beds on the half balcony with Kelly and the four girls slept on the porch with the four of us girls. It was a beautiful and tangled mess of sheets, blankets and children everywhere. I can't sleep, so I am sitting in the dark surrounded by gentle breathing and what I pray are peaceful dreams. My heart is full tonight. Haiti is great and terrible all at once and it gives one this feeling of sad happiness. Happy to be here, happy to see God work but sad that things are this way and people can hurt so badly. However, tonight, I choose to be grateful. I am abundantly grateful for all of it. The great and the terrible all at once. Goodnight, from a little house in the middle of St. Marc, Haiti. 


Krystle