Saturday, October 21, 2017

1 a.m. (Krystle)

Here I sit at almost 1 in the morning, writing a blog. I have finished my last day of work for the next 2 weeks. I have a fully packed backpack of personal supplies for on the ground in Haiti. Through a large group effort, we have 23 suitcases or 1,150lbs. of goods for the people packed and ready to go. I have everything set. I have done this more than 20 times since I was 13. And yet I sit here, two days before leaving, wondering what the heck I am doing. I have never felt more ill prepared or incapable of doing this in the past 10 years than I do now. I question this often… almost every trip, I think. But it is haunting me leading up to this trip in particular. I know I don’t view myself highly a lot of the time. But in the face of traveling into a third world country that is hopeless in every meaning of the word, what am I doing here? I have a clear calling to Haiti. But why me? I only have a high school education. I clean houses for a living. I don’t have any unique or exceptionally helpful gifting’s. What do I have to offer and make a difference? I am just me. I have been contemplating this, running it through my head and basically overthinking it in every way possible all day. And this is what it comes to. I think I am not enough. I am proclaiming to myself and everyone else around me, that I am not only not good enough, but that I am not enough. What a slap to God’s face. I am not God. So why am I questioning his authority in any way, especially concerning myself? I am doing it because I don’t see my own worth or God’s plan for my life. Instead of looking at the beauty He has created, I am looking at all the ways I think I am failing. All of the expectations others or more often than not, I have placed on myself but am failing to meet. But maybe, just maybe, I am right in the midst of God’s plans and expectations for me. I love Haiti. I have friends and family in that country that some people only dream of having. One of my greatest desires in life is to have children and though I don’t have my own biological kids, I have a plethora of children who as I think of them, bring tears to my eyes. And maybe that is enough. And if that is enough, then I must be enough. I am not going to claim to understand that or feel all better inside, but I can accept it to be as God ordains it. I am sure this post probably feels much too deep and intense. But Haiti is an intense country. Life is an intense journey. And 10 amazing people of all ages and backgrounds are about to embark through a chapter in the journey of this life to give and receive, to minister and be ministered to, to laugh and to cry, to love and be loved. And this blog is actually a reminder to them specifically but ultimately to all who are trying to follow God’s calling… you are enough. God has called, we will go and that is enough. In fact, it is perfect. And I shall rest in that knowledge tonight as I continue to prepare my heart and mind for the days ahead. To those of you who read this, thank you for listening to the ramblings of one girl's heart. Please continue to hold the people of Haiti and our team up in prayer. 

Blessings to all.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Package Deal

I awoke to little faces pressed against my bug tent, whispering my name and then dispersing into quiet giggling. Klarissa and Otelson are two of our live wires who never seem to slow down and they were the first to wake this morning, unable to restrain themselves from sneaking out to see us any longer. Our whole morning was an absolute circus, in every sense of the word! It was crazy and busy but hilarious all the same. When everyone was awake, Mom and I made up bowls of dried fruit and assorted granola bars for all of the kids and coffee for all the adults. The kids were into everything. EVERYTHING. What should have taken us 45 minutes tops to get ready took us over 4 hours. Lol! Every time we turned around, there was some national emergency or problem, half of them leaving us laughing hysterically. Finally, Mom thought of the bag of balloons she had brought from the orphanage and passed those out. It gave us a few minutes to run into the bathroom to finish getting ready. We are both standing at the sink brushing our teeth when Dina (age 13) shows up at the door, her face white as a sheet... literally. She had sneaked into my makeup bag and used my foundation all over her face and neck! If you know me, I'm the palest of pale so my makeup was NOT made for little Haitian girls! She was so embarrassed but needed our help because the more she rubbed at it, the worse it got! Then the whole thing turned into a party. We had 11 kids all wanting to partake in the joys of Beth and Krystle's cleanup supplies. They layered on the deodorant, sprayed body spray until we could hardly breathe, rubbed face lotion all over, and finally the girls got makeovers by me because they could barely contain their curiosity over all of it. Klarissa found Mom's coverup and thinking it was lipstick, smeared it all over her lips and came crying for us to fix it. The boys had blush all over, the older girls thought they would brush mascara through their eyebrows, and then we finished the whole event with a final round of deodorant and body spray. They were the nicest smelling children in the whole country of Haiti!

Just as we were getting the children loaded up into the car, Christianne and Naromie asked if we could please do this again this evening. They had huge smiles on their faces and said it was no problem to have all of the children and everyone had so much fun. So, we told them we would! Back to the orphanage we went for part of the day so the kids could do their chores and we could pack up all of the suitcases and American storage room. Mom and Robinson went out to buy hot dogs for the evening since we hadn't been planning on feeding everyone and I played board games with the kids while they were gone. Before we knew it, we were headed back for another fast paced evening at the mission house. We gave the kids bags of goodies we had brought from home for them. Bouncy balls, bubbles, balloons, etc. It kept them busy while we hurriedly packed our bags. The last movie of the trip was started and Mom and I cooked up dinner for everyone. There had been a small misunderstanding in language translation and we had not realized that all of the adults would be leaving for prayer meeting all evening, leaving us alone on our last night with all of the children! Thankfully, Claudy showed up and helped watch the kids while we finished things up.

If Klarissa gave us one kiss this evening, she gave us 50. She walked around declaring in very clear English 'Good Morning! I love you!' and kissing us on the cheek. I got my shower and was trying to make myself presentable for coming home tomorrow but was just feeling terrible about myself. I walk out of the bathroom in my pajamas, hair wrapped up in a towel and Klarissa stopped dead in her tracks with an expression of pure shock. 'Woy!', she said. 'Ou bèl, Krystle!' Or 'You are beautiful, Krystle!' Melt my heart. She was so sincere in her proclamation that it makes me wonder if children see us more clearly as who God made us to be. She doesn't see my mosquito bitten legs, broken out face, frizzy hair or body image issues. She sees my heart and the love and adoration I have for her. She is not constrained by worldly or physical looks and things, she sees true beauty in the world. I pray I learn to see with eyes like hers.

I was so proud of all of kids as we started settling down for bed. There were some tears and protestations that we could go to bed but they were going to lay awake until 3 so they could see us before we left. I can only imagine how hard it is on them each time we appear in their lives only to pack up and leave again. I know life is different when we aren't here. I got down on the girls bed to give out hugs and kisses and snuggles to all of them. Iftha was crying so hard. She asked me if I ever cry after I leave them and I told her I cry all the time because I miss them so badly. In the Haitian culture, children are encouraged not to cry. There is so much to cry over in their lives that I think they would never stop once started and so they just ignore their own pain and try to keep it inside. I'm a rebel and want them to cry if they need to and not feel ashamed. I have done this so many times now and it will never get easier. I remind myself that if it wasn't this painful, it wouldn't be worth it. To love deeply is to feel deeply and anytime you love someone in that way, there is almost always pain involved. It is a packaged deal. And I am more than willing to take it. My ultimate goal is not to just take care of their physical needs but get each and every one of them to Heaven. God is working in the hearts and lives of 12 beautiful children on a small island, in the middle of the ocean, and I am honored to have a front row seat to witness it all. Prayers for our journey home tomorrow. Blessings from St. Marc, Haiti one more time.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Lots was accomplished today! We spent part of the morning cleaning the upstairs of the Mission House and getting things ready to have all of the kids come stay with us for a sleepover. I had the most precious talk with Dina and Otelson out on the balcony where I was cooking last night. They have figured out that if they get me on my own and speak slowly, we can talk about pretty much anything. I keep my Creole speaking a secret! Ha! Their plan was to ask if they could come stay the night with Mom and I with all of the kids. They were so excited! So I talked to Mom and Rob and we made it a plan. As wonderful as the Mission House is, 11 children is a lot to fit in so we had to move things around to make it work. The second part of the morning was spent talking and handling different affairs around the orphanage, with our school program, having some things translated to take home and various meetings with people. It all went really well and a lot of things were taken care of.
    Christianne and Naromie are the ultimate hostesses and have provided us with Haitian food several of our days here! It is a treat for sure and allows us more time to spend with the kids. There was more playing with toys and games but everyone was so excited for this evening! The longer the day went on, the more people who decided they would join us tonight. In the end we have Christianne, Jocelyn, Drin, Berline, Kervins, Kimberline, Manius, Robinson, Naromie, 12 children, Mom and I! The kids started scurrying around to pack their things while Mom and I made some dinner for everyone. Shout out to West Side team who’s leftover macaroni and cheese helped make for a special night! When we were ready to go, 14 of us piled inside the Toyota to head out. I love the Haitians style of travel. 7 of us where only 3 were meant to be! At the house, Mom and I had prepared a treasure hunt for all of them by hiding 50 (yes, 50) beads around the upstairs. The kids had to find all of them, and present them to me to earn a written clue about where the treasure was hidden. The clue went something like ‘You will find your treasure someplace that is as cool as Michigan.’, which of course eventually led them to the refrigerator that is not used for refrigeration because of the lack of power. They were delighted with their new activity books and colored pencils. The game was followed up with a special experiment… snow in a can! They were ecstatic as they passed around handfuls of the white stuff that looks like snow. But the resemblance ends there! It was good enough for them though! We ended with a movie played out on the balcony. I have felt myself feeling a bit frustrated at times throughout the day where I am normally not frustrated. It took me until writing this blog to realize how much I am struggling with the idea of leaving. After the movie, we were setting up the kids beds and trying to encourage them to wind down. I was sitting on the only couch which is actually a love seat with 7 of the kids. They were asking me about when I was leaving, when I was coming back and who might be coming with me. Talking about what they might need or want in the fall time. No matter how many times I tried to explain, they can’t understand why I can’t wait to go home until Thursday. It’s not their job to understand though. They're just trying to figure out how to deal. One more loss in what must feel like a lifetime of losing. I’m not sure I’ve figured out how to deal with it either. I only know I can trust God with the in-between time and the end results for each of us, whatever that may look like. My heart is at an odd place of of aching joy. So full that it hurts. It is well after midnight and the house is quiet but the country is still alive with the sounds of what can only be Haiti. There are precious little ones spread over every inch of the floor, sleeping peacefully. I am not sure I will be afforded such rest tonight but I am off to give it a try! If you think about it, keep us in your prayers as we head full force into our final day here on the ground. Blessings from St. Marc!



This morning came early at 5:30am. We were in church before most of you at home were even awake! The church was overflowing when we walked through the gate. I remember spending long days on the property with lots of people coming and going and there were always times when there was no one there. I haven’t seen the church property having less than a few hundred people on it for at least 3 years now. It is staggering. I tried to take pictures during the service but they don’t do any justice to the reality of how many people are there. I have also tried to count but it seems an impossible task. They had taken a break from holding children’s church for a while but this morning we got to see a class in session and it was amazing! I took some video footage to share when I get home. The pastor who was speaking this morning spoke for 2 hours… that means we were in church for well over 4 hours! We are blessed with two wonderful translators as Claudy came to join us at our church this morning and he translated the whole 2 hour sermon for us! He is a very gifted man. Speaking of that, at 50 years old, he has started back to school to earn a degree in law. He is one of those people who will never stop learning. Back to church. Mom and I were both asked to speak… again. Thankfully, either because of sleep deprivation or God staunching my anxiety (we will go with the latter!), I wasn’t as nervous as I usually am. The people responded really well to everything we shared with them. Mom is a natural on stage, she just doesn’t know it! We were able to visit with lots more people after the service had ended. I’m surprised at moments just how vast that number of people is. God has truly blessed our efforts of outreach with these people. I don’t know what has made us so favorable to so many but I am grateful God has allowed me this place. I have so many friends here. I couldn’t even begin to name them all or how their hearts and lives bless my own. Lots of great pictures were taken with a lot of them!
    Back at the house it was a quieter day. I know from staying here for longer periods of time that Sundays are normally a rest day. When I say rest, I mean sleeping! Usually, everyone takes long naps to recharge for the week to come. All of the kids fought to stay awake so they could be with us, though we were quite tired ourselves. Only Klarissa succumbed to sleeps alluring call and didn’t wake for 4 hours! We let the kids take turns picking out movies to watch, we gave them snacks, played a few games, etc. The really exciting thing for the kids was a water balloon fight during the hotter part of the day. You have never seen kids go as wild as these while we filled 5 gallon buckets with balloons. It was boys versus girls with Mom and I both filming the whole thing. Their squeals of laughter and bright smiles were enough to warm anyones heart!
    Mom and I whipped up a pretty fantastic dinner to share with everyone out of some ramen noodles and cans of chicken from the fall trip. Every trip to Haiti I always tell myself I will never take for granted how easy it is to cook at home but I am always shocked when I come back just how difficult the simplest of tasks are. The kids were absolutely crazy over our ‘poor man’s dinner’ though, so that is all that matters to me! As they all sat there eating and I was setting up the movie outside, a sudden gust of wind took out the projector screen which thanks to his lightening fast skills, Kenley caught just before it hit the concrete. We improvised and just used the side of the house for the viewing of ‘BFG’. It was a great day. I am feeling the pressure of leaving so soon but am praying that God will help me make every moment count. Blessings from rainy St. Marc!


Monday, April 10, 2017


Another fantastic day has come and gone. Robinson was at the long night service all night so Kervins was our guardian angel and slept on the floor in front of our door to keep watch over us and tend the generator. He is a special young man whom I cannot say enough good things about. He and I have gotten a lot closer on this trip and I am very grateful for his friendship. There were a couple of big soccer games on today and the house was overflowing with young boys and men who had gotten special permission to watch on Pastor’s television! The whole house was laced with tension and excitement from all of the bodies closed in together in such a small space. We found a couple of corners and settled down to color giant pictures and play Uno with all of the younger kids. It may sound like a more relaxed day but with all of these little ones, nothing is slow paced! We visited a couple of grocery stores this afternoon to track down enough hotdogs and buns to make dinner for everyone. When just Mom and I come, we only have room to bring food for ourselves for most days as well as snacks we can give to all of the kids. We wanted to make something for everyone though and hotdogs are always a smash hit here in Haiti! 80 hotdogs, a couple bags of trail mix and a few containers of Pringles later, the whole house was in a happy food coma watching ‘Sing’ which was also adored by all. Christianne made Mom and I a lovely Haitian dinner and Naromie topped it off with a homemade juice made out of ‘sugar apples’. As picky as I have been in the past, I think God hacked into my system and somehow gave me an uncanny love for Haitian food! It all made for a wonderful night together!
     Mom and I sit here on the balcony of the Mission House tonight, talking about the day, talking about Haiti, talking about the ministry, talking about life. I have what feels like a vast multitude of thoughts whirling around in my head this evening. We were blessed to have some really good heart to heart conversations with Rob today but the after affects are that the wheels in my head are on autopilot and running at a steady pace. I have each of our kids on my mind. How each of them came to us, their backgrounds and how their pasts complicate their everyday lives and futures. Their trials have been great though their years have been few. I find it amazing how resilient we are as human beings, especially children. How does the pain not just stop their tiny hearts from beating? They already had so little and for the people who were meant to teach them all the things so many of us take for granted to just be torn from their grasp, is heartbreaking. The answer I trust to be true, is that God has big plans for each of them. He is the ultimate heart and mind physician and can repair all of the fissures that have been carved into our beings from the beginning. Each one of these beautiful children hold a place dearer in my heart than I thought anyone could ever have. Tonight, my cup is overflowing with love and joy! God has been with us on this trip in a tremendous way. Prayers have been answered and fresh air has  been breathed into everything. Time for some rest before an early morning and church tomorrow! Blessings from St. Marc!


Saturday, April 8, 2017


    Another day full of adventures and God’s handiwork. We have our normal routine in the mornings of getting ready, eating breakfast, devotions, etc. There were a couple of people visiting this morning and I made coffee for all of us to drink while we sat around talking. We took off for what turned out to be a morning around town. First, we picked up Pastor Martylus’ wife from a doctors visit as she just had her second baby (taken by C-Section) 9 days ago. Next, we stopped by the eye clinic to pick up Otelson. Mom and I both noticed his eyes were very red and he couldn’t stop rubbing them yesterday. We suspected pink eye and were proven correct when the doctor saw him. The amazing thing to me is this. Robinson took Otelson to the clinic at 6:30 this morning so he could be one of the first in line. He waited with one of the ladies who helps at the orphanage and was just getting called back to see the doctor at 11:00 when we got there. It took over 5 hours for this 11 year old to be diagnosed with pink eye and given a prescription for eye drops. Can you even imagine? I had to laugh as Robinson walked Otelson back up to the registration desk when his name was called and the nurse asked if this was his son. Robinson replied that he was and she asked him how old he was. Robinson couldn’t remember and looked down at Otelson who replied he thought he was 12. The nurse scolded Rob, saying that he really should know his own child’s age to which Rob replied, ‘I do my best but I have 11 children!’. Really, can you imagine doing doctors visits for 11 children when it takes 4-6 hours each time? We are so blessed. I know it is easier to say that when I am here being forced to watch it, feel it, and breathe it in but I pray God will help me keep this unique perspective that only this kind of environment can inspire. The weight of it comes crashing down on you like a freight train. In a life like this, reality forces perspectives hand.
    Our last stop of the day was a 20 minute drive out to our new church property! I have been so excited to see it as on our last trip in the fall, only the guys were able to go with Rob to scope it out. We parked, ran across the busy street and met the original owner who took us on a guided tour of the road, surrounding area and finally our very own property! It is beautiful. A good ways back from the road and completely uncultivated and untouched. As we stood there and Rob started pointing to different areas, telling us where everything was going to be, I turned a page and ended the last chapter of the first book in what I hope to be a very long series in my mind. Sometimes, you dread finishing a book and just want it to go on forever, but sometimes the book is so exciting, there are so many things left to discover, you can hardly wait to pick up the next one. That is how this feels to me. I was hesitant about a change this big in the ministry before coming but as soon as I set foot on that property, you can feel the power. A piece of property isn’t magic and won't do anything in and of itself but a piece of property being used to bring glory to the Lord? That will transform lives. Six or seven children ran down from a house not too faraway to come and see us. After taking some pictures, Rob translated for Mom who told them that we were going to be their new neighbors. That there is going to be a beautiful church built here for everyone to come to. Their eyes were just shining. God has provided us with a whole new area of people who are hungry for His presence in their hearts. It is amazing. And did I mention that our property is practically on a mountain? We are literally going to  be ‘The church on the mountain’, which I think is the best part yet! Help us pray over every area of this property and the ministry God is working to expand!
    The rest of our day was wonderful as well. A bit quieter so that everyone could recover from the first two days! Lots of movies, snuggles, coloring and crafts. We ended the night with a popcorn and jellybean bonanza while watching Moana out in the courtyard. Now it is time for us to rest our eyes before jumping into another day of it tomorrow! Blessings always.



    How do I even begin to describe today? A wonderful, beautiful, chaotic whirlwind is the best I can come up with off the top of my head… at almost midnight. I am struggling to find the words I want through blurry eyes and mind. Our morning started much earlier today and right before we left the mission house, Madam Robert stopped by to see us. We have known her since our first trip in almost 10 years ago and she is one of Mom’s dearest friends here in Haiti. I am sure many of you have heard stories of the connection she and Mom have made over singing. It is something special that God has used to entwine their hearts together, and for the rest of their lives I would say.
    We made a quick trip (quick in Haiti is not very quick!) to the Digicel store to try and fix our internet issues so I am not spending so much time in the evening trying to get blogs sent out. Thankfully, it was an easy fix, though we had to bite the bullet and put some cash out for a new router and wifi plan. Hopefully it will make it easier for Rob when we leave as well.
    The day really began when we arrived at the orphanage. I truly don’t know how to even begin to get the idea across to anyone at home. There were 13 kids and several young people there today as well as all of the adults. We have a small stash of toys and games we brought in the fall and kept in the ‘American storage room’ for safe keeping to be used when we came back. Because of that, we have many options available for varying age groups which makes for fun times for everyone. The problem in Haiti is that none of these kids have received training on how to handle toys or games. You get something out and every single one of them is instantly thrown into survival mode and grabs for whatever is within reach. You have to learn to be patient in absolutely everything, even the tasks you think would be simple. When we have a team here, the kids will spread out more as there is attention being given from lots of people at one time. With just two of us, it seems there would not be enough to go around if it wasn’t for God’s grace on Mom and I! There were so many fantastic memories made. I took as many pictures as I could through all of the craziness but I wish I could capture every moment. The kids got their first taste of putting together sets of legos which they are all crazy over. Teaching them to keep the pieces together is quite a process but they all did so great! The older kids have finally learned how to put together puzzles and they can’t get enough of them. After several hours of non stop playing, Mom and I decided to divide and conquer. She took the older children to play a couple of board games (which is always interesting trying to explain rules in a completely foreign language) while I took the kids ages 4-11 to give them their first lesson on how to use scissors… I know, I am completely out of my mind at moments! On my 3 month trip almost 5 years ago, I had taught who are now our oldest kids the same thing when I found out they had never used scissors. So, when Mom witnessed Iftha at 11 years old cutting off the end of her braid yesterday, proud as a peacock at her accomplishment, we decided our younger generation needed the same thing. Why you may ask would we choose this as an activity for orphan children? The answer to that is, we are Beth and Krystle and sometimes we have crazy ideas. And since we have promised to give our kids every opportunity that we can make possible, ‘cut and fold’ crafts became part of the agenda for the day! After having a small discussion about the dangers and responsibilities of using child proof scissors (LOL!), I passed them out to my 6 students and let them each pick a page from the craft books. Everything was going beautifully at first. Everyone was cutting away while I gave instructions as needed. Klarissa sat on my lap while I guided her through her project. And then it began. Iftha made a small error on the scalloped edges she was trying to make on her paper fan and burst into tears. I turned to help her fix it and tell her it was okay because she is just learning only to turn around and find Vlad has accidentally cut his small city and car scene in half… he looked at me all confused and said ‘I don’t understand what happened’. HA! Otelson’s bat (He has a recent obsession with Batman) came out with one perfect wing and the other one the same shape but half the size as the first. He was devastated so I helped him cut it out so we could tape it together. Bigodson cut off the tongue on his snake and Klarissa cut her crown in half… it was a regular three ring circus! Thankfully, Vanessa was successful in her first attempt making a bluebird. We were laughing so hard by the end of our escapades, all 7 of us sitting in a circle, the room looking like a crafting battlefield with tiny pieces of paper flying everywhere from the fan. I learn so much from these kids. To embrace the moments while they are here and just laugh even if it all goes wrong. They are all amazingly, perseverant, little human beings.   
    Meanwhile, Mom had her difficulties trying to teach 3 teenage boys how to play Racko… teenagers are already difficult and it took Samuel 20 minutes to decide on something that might be appealing to him. Remember the days of trying oh so hard to be cool? I think we all end up looking back and laughing at ourselves! After Robinson translated all about the importance of not cheating and good attitudes as well as the rules of the game, they left them to start. When she checked back they told her they couldn’t understand why the game was so easy and went so quickly only for her to discover all of them had rigged their cards. Oh my gosh. She had me laughing hysterically when she told me all about how she was trying to tell them that ‘it is not a good thing to cheat’ and how she has never been good at shuffling cards but how God must have touched her and she shuffled those cards perfectly! LOL! The boys were staring at her with big eyes, very impressed with her skills which she was just as surprised at but acted like she knew exactly what she was doing! She is an absolute hoot!
    We ended the evening with a showing of Pete’s Dragon out in the yard. Klarissa was sitting on one leg, Vanessa was using the other as a pillow and Iftha had her arms wrapped around my waist while Vlad held my hand. I got up covered in mosquito bites and both legs sound asleep. It is so worth it. I am unable to express my love for this country and these kids and this journey we find ourselves on together. Perhaps you will get to read something a bit more profound in a different blog or maybe not but the words are taken from my heart and typed out onto this screen and I thank you for taking the time to read them. Goodnight and blessings from St. Marc!